Archive for the ‘Judge Janice Clark’ Tag

From The Animal Legal Defense Fund: Making Sense of the Current Status of the Tony the Tiger Cases   Leave a comment

Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on May 14th, 2012

We at the Animal Legal Defense Fund are committed to doing everything within our power to make sure that Tony finds his way to a reputable, accredited sanctuary where he can live out the rest of his life in an environment that caters to his needs rather than one that exploits him as a profitable spectacle.

To that end, our litigation team has been busy making sure that Louisiana’s big cat ban is defended and enforced. We are currently involved in three separate lawsuits concerning Tony, and with all the various developments, we thought it was time for a big picture overview on where things stand.

The first lawsuit is the one ALDF filed last April to have Michael Sandlin’s tiger permit revoked. In November, Judge Michael Caldwell ruled in our favor, holding that Mr. Sandlin was ineligible for a permit under the state regulations. Judge Caldwell ordered the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke Sandlin’s permit and not issue any new permits. Mr. Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop have appealed that decision to the Louisiana Court of Appeal. We are currently waiting for the court to set a briefing schedule, which we expect in the coming months. It’s worth noting that the Department has complied with the court’s order and not issued a new permit to Mr. Sandlin, meaning that Mr. Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop continue to possess and exhibit Tony without the required permit.

In an attempt to remedy the Tiger Truck Stop’s open violation of the law, ALDF filed a second lawsuit to force the Department to enforce the state’s wildlife laws and turn Mr. Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop over to the District Attorney for prosecution.  Unfortunately, earlier this month, Judge Caldwell held that enforcement decisions by an agency are discretionary duties that cannot be compelled by the judiciary, and that our plaintiffs lacked legal standing to bring the case. (Standing is a constant hurdle in animal law cases that limits who can bring a lawsuit. More information on standing is available here and here.) We are still considering our options on whether to appeal the decision. Supporters should understand that the decision in this second case does not undermine our victory in the first case. Judge Caldwell’s original ruling that Mr. Sandlin cannot have a tiger permit still stands, and it is still illegal for Mr. Sandlin to possess and exhibit Tony. This loss means only that we cannot force the Department to enforce the law. The Department has said publicly that it intends to enforce Louisiana law once litigation has concluded. Although that is not the timeline we hoped for (after all, Mr. Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop are violating the law at this very moment and the Department could seize Tony at any time), we expect the Department will eventually do the job entrusted to it by Louisiana’s citizens: enforce the law and protect wildlife.

The third lawsuit is one filed by Mr. Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop against the State of Louisiana, the Department, and Iberville Parish, seeking to invalidate the state ban on private possession of big cats. If successful, the case would not only allow Mr. Sandlin to keep Tony, it could also open the floodgates to captivity for countless other captive wild animals. Mr. Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop did not name ALDF as a party to the suit, but given the high stakes, we insisted on being part of the case. We filed what is called a petition to intervene, which asks the court to allow the intervener into the case with the same rights and opportunity to be heard as the named parties. Although Mr. Sandlin and the truck stop objected to our intervention, Judge Janice Clark held that ALDF had a right to intervene in the case and granted our petition. Interestingly, we are now on the same side as the Department, our adversary in the other two lawsuits. Although we wish they were more proactive in enforcing the ban, both ALDF and the Department want the Louisiana big cat ban upheld. The next step is for our litigation team to file exceptions to Mr. Sandlin’s case and an opposition to his request for an injunction against the big cat ban.

We are optimistic that we will prevail and the court will uphold Louisiana’s right to protect public safety and animal welfare by prohibiting private possession of majestic animals like Tony. Our hope is that once Mr. Sandlin’s case is over, the Department will act quickly to ensure Tony’s removal to a humane sanctuary.

If this sounds complicated and frustratingly slow, that’s because it is. In order to manage large case loads and protect the due process rights of litigants, the legal system may take a while to resolve contentious issues. We too are growing impatient with every extra day Tony spends in captivity at the truck stop, and we are doing everything we can to accelerate his release to a proper sanctuary.

Still have questions about the cases? Post them below and we will answer as best we can.

http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2053

More from The Animal Legal Defense Fund on the May 7, 2012 Hearing   Leave a comment

From The Animal Legal Defense Fund:

May 7, 2012: In today’s hearing in Baton Rouge, District Judge Janice Clark agreed that the Animal Legal Defense Fund and two Louisiana residents can be parties to the lawsuit filed by Michael Sandlin, owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop, against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). ALDF and the other interveners seek to defend the state’s law banning private ownership of big cats. Thanks to today’s ruling, ALDF will now have a right to participate in all steps of the litigation as it moves forward.

In their case, Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop are suing the state, arguing that Louisiana’s ban on private ownership of big cats like Tony is unconstitutional—flying in the face of the current national sentiment that dangerous exotic animals should be more strictly regulated. Ohio is currently considering a bill that would ban new ownership of captive wild animals, following the massacre of 48 animals including lions, tigers, and bears, who were released by their Zanesville owner last October. Additionally, in February, a bipartisan bill—the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act”—was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prohibit the breeding and private possession of captive big cats. ALDF’s intervention in Sandlin’s case will support Louisiana’s power to safeguard public safety and the welfare of animals like Tony through such legislative measures.

http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=2023

 

Please continue to support Tony by signing and sharing his petitions:

  • Change.org Petition For Tony  – January 16, 2012  

http://www.change.org/petitions/ldwf-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary

  • Care2 Petition For Tony Is Still Open (Over 50,000 Signatures)

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/129/272/008/ 

Animal rights group to fight big cat lawsuit   Leave a comment

Tony the truck stop tiger still waits in his cage
Photo credit:
Animal Legal Defense Fund

6:30 PM, May. 7, 2012

NEW ORLEANS (WTW) — An animal rights group can join a lawsuit and fight a challenge to a Louisiana law that bars private ownership of big cats, a state district judge ruled Monday.

Judge Janice Clark said the Animal Legal Defense Fund and two Louisiana residents can be parties to a challenge brought by Michael Sandlin, who has kept a tiger for decades at his Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete.

Sandlin contends the law is unconstitutional. He opposed allowing the ALDF and two others to become parties to the suit.

“Upholding Louisiana’s big cat ban will prevent untold harm in the future to other big cats like Tony, who deserve better than a sad life at a roadside truck stop,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF.

Sandlin’s attorney, Jennifer Treadway Morris, said she probably won’t appeal this ruling because it can be part of her appeal if Clark upholds the law.

Tony, a Bengal-Siberian mix, is the eighth tiger in 22 years at the truck stop. Sandlin and the truck stop company — Tony’s legal owner — argue that moving the tiger now would be cruel.

In November, state District Judge Mike Caldwell ordered the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the permit that let Tiger Truck Stop Inc. keep the tiger at the business.

He also prohibited a new permit, saying the agency had broken its own rule allowing only individuals to own tigers.

The department has appealed the November ruling.

http://www.thenorthwestern.com/usatoday/article/39220899?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cs

Via The Animal Legal Defense Fund: Victory In Today’s Hearing!   Leave a comment

 

From The Animal Legal Defense Find:

May 7, 2012: Good news! In today’s hearing in Baton Rouge, District Judge Janice Clark agreed that the Animal Legal Defense Fund and two Louisiana residents can be parties to the lawsuit filed by Michael Sandlin, owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop, against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. ALDF and the other interveners seek to defend the state’s law banning private ownership of big cats. Thanks to today’s ruling, ALDF will now have a right to participate in all steps of the litigation as it moves forward.

Judge denies tiger appeal   Leave a comment

Advocate staff file photo by PATRICK DENNIS Tony, the Siberian-Bengal tiger on display at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, on Dec. 2, 2010.

BY JOE GYAN JR.
Advocate staff writer
May 05, 2012

A judge refused Thursday to order the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to remove Tony the 550-pound tiger from a Grosse Tete truck stop enclosure where he has been kept for more than a decade.

State District Judge Mike Caldwell cited the separation of powers between the judicial and executive branches of government, and also said the Animal Legal Defense Fund and several other individually named plaintiffs lacked legal standing to try to compel LDWF to take action against the truck stop.

ALDF attorney Erin Pelleteri argued during a hearing that Tiger Truck Stop’s state permit for the Siberian-Bengal tiger expired Dec. 31. She said Michael Sandlin, owner of the Iberville Parish truck stop, is “blatantly’’ violating Louisiana law and endangering the public, and should be prosecuted.

“There is no permit in place. Mr. Sandlin is in violation of the law,’’ Pelleteri argued. “The department is doing nothing.’’

Jennifer Treadway Morris, an attorney for Sandlin and his truck stop, countered that the facility has a federal permit to house the tiger. She also disputed Pelleteri’s safety allegation.

“There is no public safety concern here,’’ Morris told the judge.

Sandlin, who attended the hearing, said afterward he loves tigers.

“I love Tony. I love (LSU’s) Mike the tiger,’’ he said. “The people of Grosse Tete want Tony to stay.’’

LDWF attorney Fred Whitrock argued during the hearing that ALDF and the individual plaintiffs, including Baton Rouge resident Brandi Sutten, have no direct interest in the outcome of the case but are merely morally opposed to Tony being displayed at the truck stop off Interstate 10.

“That is not sufficient for legal standing,’’ he said.

Sutten testified she visits Tony from time to time and finds it “emotionally draining’’ to see a tiger housed near an interstate, something she considers “inappropriate’’ and “absolutely crazy.’’

Morris told Sutten there are neighborhoods closer to Exxon’s Baton Rouge refinery than Tony is to the highway. After Sutten testified she has never visited Mike the tiger at LSU, Morris asked her if she is generally opposed to tigers being kept in cages or just opposed to Tony the truck stop tiger.

“Just Tony,’’ she acknowledged.

In response to an earlier ALDF lawsuit against LDWF, Caldwell last year barred the state agency from issuing any new permits to Tiger Truck Stop to keep 11-year-old Tony there. Sandlin has appealed that ruling to the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal.

Caldwell said a state permit can be issued only to an individual, not a corporation, and Tiger Truck Stop is the permit holder, not Sandlin.

If Sandlin’s appeal is ultimately denied, LDWF has said it would give Sandlin 30 days to move Tony to a sanctuary of Sandlin’s choosing.

Sandlin, in a suit he filed against the state and Iberville Parish in January, is challenging the constitutionality of a 2006 state law that banned private ownership of large and exotic cats.

The state law includes a grandfather exception that allows people to keep exotic cats as pets as long as the animals were legally owned before Aug. 15, 2006, when the law went into effect.

ALDF contends Tony was not legally owned by Tiger Truck Stop before that date because a 1993 Iberville Parish ordinance prohibits anyone from owning wild, exotic or vicious animals for display or exhibition.

Sandlin’s suit also says the ordinance is unconstitutional. He argues the ordinance does not have an exception for persons with proper permits under federal law.

ALDF has filed a petition to intervene in Sandlin’s suit. State District Judge Janice Clark is scheduled to hold a hearing on that request Monday.

http://theadvocate.com/home/2727217-125/judge-denies-tiger-appeal

Judge won’t order truck stop tiger’s removal   Leave a comment

By Staff reports
Associated Press
Posted May 04, 2012 @ 09:30 AM

BASTROP, La. —

A state judge has refused to order the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to remove an 11-year-old tiger from a truck stop in Grosse Tete.

Judge Michael Caldwell ruled Thursday that he cannot order the executive branch to do that. He also ruled that the Animal Legal Defense Fund and two plaintiffs don’t have legal standing to bring up the question.

“There is no legal means for a private citizen to go to a court and ask the judge to order another branch of government to perform what is essentially a discretionary function,” said Jennifer Treadway Morris, attorney for Michael Sandlin and his Tiger Truck Stop Inc.

Lisa Franzetta, spokeswoman for the nonprofit group, said it was considering whether to appeal Thursday’s decision.

In November, Caldwell ordered the department to revoke the permit for a tiger at Tiger Truck Stop.

ALDF sued last month, saying the department refused to confiscate the animal from the truck stop and its owner, Michael Sandlin, because it has appealed Caldwell’s November decision and Sandlin had challenged the constitutionality of Louisiana’s ban on private ownership of big cats.

“In no way does today’s ruling affect the judge’s previous ruling that Michael Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop can’t be granted a permit to keep Tony,” Franzetta said. “We were trying to speed up the process of getting Tony away from the truck stop.”

Treadway Morris and attorneys for the Animal Legal Defense Fund will be back in State District Court on Monday. Judge Janice Clark has scheduled a hearing on the group’s request to intervene in Sandlin’s lawsuit.

http://www.bastropenterprise.com/newsnow/x1120195486/Judge-wont-order-truck-stop-tigers-removal

%d bloggers like this: