by Michelle C. Pardo
You may have heard the well-known proverb, “a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client.” It stands for the concept that while individuals in our country are free to represent him or herself in a criminal or civil trial – acting pro se – many caution that this is not the wisest course.
The issue is even more precarious when an attorney attempts to participate as a fact witness in a case he or she has brought. Rule 3.7 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (a rule substantially echoed in many jurisdictions) states that “[a] lawyer shall not act as advocate at a trial in which the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness.” This rule applies absent certain narrow circumstances, such as the testimony relates to an uncontested issue or the nature and value of legal services. The reason for the rule is straightforward: combining roles of advocate and witness can prejudice the court and the opposing party and create a conflict of interest between lawyer and client.
Friends of Animals, an animal rights organization headquartered in Connecticut, recently was called out by a federal judge in Oregon when its in-house counsel, Michael Harris, tried to serve as a declarant in support of Friends of Animals’ summary judgment motion. The declaration was intended to establish the requisite “injury in fact” for Friends of Animals’ members to establish a critical element of “standing” – the threshold inquiry that permits a litigant to have an injury remedied by the federal courts. Continue reading The Pitfalls of Serving as Activist Attorney and Client: Should We Give A Hoot?
by Michelle C. Pardo
Serbia joins the ranks of European countries that have enacted bans on fur farming. Serbia’s Animal Welfare Act legislation passed in 2009, with a 10 year phase out period on farming. The Act makes it illegal to keep, reproduce, import, export and kill animals only for the production of fur. Efforts to delay or reverse the ban proved to be unsuccessful and the ban went into effect on the first of the year. Serbia’s fur farming centered on raising chinchillas, which are native to Northern Chile and known to have extraordinarily dense and soft fur. While both the long-tailed and short-tailed chinchilla are listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, chinchillas are still commercially bred. Serbia joins a number of countries that have banned fur farming or sales, including Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom. More countries have bans on their parliamentary agendas. Animal and environmental activists have long advocated for bans on fur farming due to animal welfare and environmental “sustainability” issues.
However a recent study commissioned by the International Fur Federation and Fur Europe found that natural fur biodegrades rapidly even in landfill conditions without oxygen as opposed to fake fur which did not biodegrade at all. The study results, announced last summer, note that synthetic fashion materials contribute to plastic pollution and directly challenge claims made by environmental activists who claim that fur production is an energy consumptive process.
Fur bans are not only trending in Europe. In 2018 the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban the sale of fur clothing and directed the City Attorney’s office to draft an ordinance outlining the ban. The LA City Council will have to approve the ordinance and have it signed by the mayor before it becomes law. The LA ban will likely have exemptions for fur trapped by California Fish and Game license holders and for fur worn for religious purposes. Some in the fashion industry have debated whether fur bans are only the first step in an activist agenda to ban the sale of leather and wool. Sustainability has become the “buzz word” in the fashion industry as more companies feel pressures to source their goods from raw materials that generate environmental, social and economic benefits while not using too many resources or causing pollution.
by Michelle C. Pardo
An Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit against the City of New Bedford will continue after a federal district judge in Massachusetts denied the defendant’s efforts to dismiss plaintiff Joyce Rowley’s lawsuit. The City of New Bedford runs the Buttonwood Park Zoo, which has been home to two Asian elephants, Ruth and Emily, for decades. Plaintiff Rowley runs an organization called Friends of Ruth & Emily Inc., which is dedicated to retiring Asian elephants Ruth and Emily to “a warm climate sanctuary to live out their days in peace, dignity, and freedom”. In the last 25 months, it’s “Go Fund Me” page has raised just $10,025 of the requested $25,000 “to get justice” for the elephants. Continue reading Asian Elephant Case Against Buttonwood Park Zoo Continues