Archive for the ‘Judge R. Michael Caldwell’ Tag
July 2016 marks Tony’s 16th year of captivity at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana – 16 years exploited as a roadside attraction.
This blog for Tony began back in 2009 shortly after learning about him from Big Cat Rescue – Tampa FL. Tony’s story was shocking, unbelievable, and sad – our hope was to give it more public attention and engage organizations that could help him. Social media bolstered Tony’s saga worldwide with his blog, and presence on Twitter (two accounts @FreeTonyTiger and @TonyTiger2000,) Facebook, Youtube and Instagram.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund took on Tony’s case. The permit issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was found illegal and revoked in 2011 by Judge Michael Caldwell; this decision was upheld by The Louisiana Court of Appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court. When Mr. Sandlin exhausted his appeals he enlisted Sen. Rick Ward to propose a bill (SB 250) to exempt himself from the 2006 law barring private ownership of big cats. The bill was passed by the Louisiana Legislature and signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal (Act 697.) The Animal Legal Defense Fund has been working tirelessly on Tony’s case and has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Louisiana taxpayers, challenging the state’s new special exemption.
With more privately owned tigers in the United States (est. 5,000 plus) than left in the wild (appx. 3,200) support for legislation banning private ownership is very important. The Big Cat Public Safety Act is a federal law that would end the private possession of big cats as pets, props and for their parts. Please help with the passage of this law by contacting your member of congress and asking them to champion the bill. Visit: http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-act/ for more information.
We remain positive for Tony and supportive of the efforts to secure his release to a big cat sanctuary. We Thank ALL of Tony’s friends for your dedicated support and ask you to please keep involved on his social media sites. If you visit Tony please share your pictures and videos with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Special Thanks: The Animal Legal Defense Fund and sanctuaries Big Cat Rescue, The Wildcat Sanctuary and The Wild Animal Sanctuary.
Tony the Tiger
Tony the Tiger is captive in a truckstop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, where he lives among diesel fumes with a fraction of the space he would have in the wild. The following is a timeline of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s work to free Tony.
- June 24, 2014 – ALDF files lawsuit on behalf of Louisiana taxpayers, challenging the state’s new special exemption that allows Michael Sandlin to possess Tony.
- June 18, 2014 – Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signs SB 250 into law, exempting Michael Sandlin from existing Louisiana law that prohibits the private possession of exotic cats.
- October 4, 2013 – Louisiana Supreme Court declines review of the Court of Appeal’s decision, allowing ALDF’s victory to stand.
- April 25, 2013 – Louisiana Court of Appeal upholds a lower court decision in ALDF’s favor, which ruled that the LDWF unlawfully issued Michael Sandlin a permit to exhibit Tony the tiger.
- January 3, 2012 –Sandlin files a lawsuit against the State of Louisiana, the LDWF, and Iberville Parish, trying to overturn the state ban on private possession of dangerous and exotic cats.
- November 2, 2011 – Judge Caldwell rules in ALDF’s favor that the LDWF unlawfully issued Sandlin a permit. The department is ordered by the court to revoke that permit.
- April 11, 2011 – ALDF sues the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for unlawfully issuing Michael Sandlin a permit to exhibit Tony the tiger.
For a more comprehensive overview of our efforts to free Tony, check out our feature article.
Direct link: http://aldf.org/cases-campaigns/timelines/tony-the-tiger/
BY JOE GYAN JR.
Advocate staff writer
June 12, 2013
An attorney for a Grosse Tete truck stop and its owner said Tuesday the Louisiana Supreme Court will be the next stop in the case of Tony the truck stop tiger.
“We’re going to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary,” Jennifer Treadway Morris, who represents Tiger Truck Stop and owner Michael Sandlin, said on the heels of an adverse state appellate court order.
A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal on Friday refused without comment to reconsider its April ruling that Tony, a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger, cannot continue to be housed in an exhibit at Tiger Truck Stop off Interstate 10.
The panel on April 25 upheld a previous ruling by state District Judge Mike Caldwell that a 2006 Louisiana law bars the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from renewing Sandlin’s permit to house Tony at the truck stop exhibit.
Caldwell concluded the department violated its own rules by exempting Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop from permit requirements for owners of big cats. The judge ruled that a state permit can be issued only to an individual, not a corporation. Tiger Truck Stop was the permit holder, not Sandlin, he said.
The truck stop’s last annual state permit expired at the end of 2011.
The appellate court panel, however, overturned Caldwell’s decision to allow the nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund to intervene in the lawsuit on the side of four Louisiana residents who wanted Tony, now 12, sent to an accredited wildlife sanctuary.
In a related suit pending before state District Judge Janice Clark, Sandlin contends that a 1993 Iberville Parish ordinance should not be allowed to ban ownership of “wild, exotic or vicious animals for display or for exhibition.”
Sandlin, who has held a federal permit to keep tigers at the truck stop since 1988, argues a parish ordinance cannot ignore federal rules.
Tony has been at Tiger Truck Stop for more than a decade.
Sandlin also is challenging the legality of the 2006 state law that banned private ownership of large and exotic cats. The law does include 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.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has said previously that Tony is the last privately owned big and exotic cat in the state. Sandlin maintains the tiger is well cared for, healthy and happy.
Article also appeared in:
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Re-posting from ALDF:
Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on April 26th, 2013
Yesterday, April 25th, 2013, the Louisiana Court of Appeal issued its long-awaited opinion in Animal Legal Defense Fund v. State of Louisiana, holding that Michael Sandlin is ineligible for a permit to confine Tony the Tiger in a cage at the Tiger Truck Stop.
Although the court held that ALDF lacked standing to be a plaintiff in the case, it nevertheless confirmed that our clients—Louisiana residents and taxpayers—do have standing to challenge illegal actions by the government, in this case the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
In ruling on the merits, the court agreed with ALDF’s argument that Michael Sandlin cannot receive a grandfather permit to continue to keep Tony because Sandlin does not meet the legal requirements for such a permit. As the court put it:
The record establishes that on August 15, 2006, Tony was not owned by Michael Sandlin; rather, he was owned by Tiger Truck Stop. Additionally, on August 15, 2006, the ownership and possession of Tony by Tiger Truck Stop and the possession by Michael Sandlin in Iberville Parish was in violation of a local ordinance, and thus, illegal. Although that local ordinance was amended in 2009 retroactive to August 15, 2006, the amendment to the ordinance did not change the fact that on August 15, 2006, neither Tiger Truck Stop nor Michael Sandlin legally possessed or legally owned Tony. Only an individual who legally possessed an exotic cat (such as a tiger) and who could prove legal ownership of that exotic cat is entitled to a permit for that cat. Accordingly, that part of the judgment of the trial court granting a final/permanent injunction against DWF, enjoining it from issuing any new permits to Michael Sandlin and/or Tiger Truck Stop for the tiger (“Tony” microchip #477E201A4C) now located at Tiger Truck Stop in Iberville Parish is affirmed.
The decision marks a significant step towards Tony’s freedom, as the second-highest court in Louisiana has confirmed that the Department erred when it issued Sandlin a permit. Sandlin’s lawyer has said she intends to seek rehearing of the Court of Appeal’s decision, as well as review by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Sandlin also has his own lawsuit to invalidate the state’s big cat ban. But rest assured ALDF will fight every step of the way to make sure Tony ends up in a reputable sanctuary. We still have a long road ahead, but we’ve cleared a major hurdle and have earned this moment of celebration.
Update From The Animal Legal Defense Fund:
April 25, 2013: On April 25, 2013 the Louisiana Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling in ALDF’s case against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for unlawfully issuing Michael Sandlin a permit to keep and exhibit Tony. The Court of Appeals agreed with Judge Caldwell, holding that Sandlin is ineligible for a permit to keep Tony. With pro bono assistance from Baker Donelson, ALDF will continue to fight on behalf of Tony and the individual plaintiffs involved.
By Bill Lodge
Advocate staff writer
April 26, 2013
Tony, the 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger, cannot continue to be housed in an exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, a three-judge panel of the state’s 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled Thursday in Baton Rouge.
But an attorney for truck stop owner Michael Sandlin said Tony will not be moved to a new home soon.
“We are going to file for a rehearing at the 1st Circuit. If we lose on rehearing, we’ll be filing an appeal with the Louisiana Supreme Court,” said Jennifer Treadway Morris, Sandlin’s attorney.
Members of the 1st Circuit panel were Circuit Judges J.E. “Duke” Welch and Randolph H. Parro, as well as retired Judge William F. Kline Jr., who serves on the appellate bench by special appointment of the state’s Supreme Court.
The 20-page decision written by Welch upheld a November 2011 judgment by 19th Judicial District Judge Michael Caldwell, who ruled a 2006 state law bars the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from renewing Sandlin’s permit to house Tony at the truck stop exhibit off Interstate 10.
The appellate panel, however, overturned Caldwell’s decision to allow the nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund to intervene in the civil suit on the side of four Louisiana residents who wanted Tony, now 12, sent to an accredited wildlife sanctuary.
Those four residents are Warren Triche Jr., Brandi J. Sutten, Jennifer Torquati and John Kelleher.
Matthew G. Liebman, a California-based attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said he does not believe the nonprofit organization will appeal the 1st Circuit’s ruling that it should not have intervened in the litigation.
The most important part of the 1st Circuit’s decision was its agreement with Caldwell that state officials cannot renew the permit that allowed Tony to be kept at the truck stop, Liebman said.
“We see this decision as a victory,” Liebman added. “It looks like Tony is finally going to breathe some fresh air.”
Morris, however, noted that Sandlin has a related civil suit pending before 19th Judicial District Court Judge Janice Clark.
Sandlin argues in that suit that a 1993 Iberville Parish ordinance should not be allowed to ban ownership of “wild, exotic or vicious animals for display or for exhibition.”
In his suit, Sandlin adds that he has held a federal permit to keep tigers at the truck stop, just off Interstate 10, since 1988. He argues that a parish ordinance cannot ignore federal rules.
Although the case in Clark’s court remains to be decided, Morris said the 1st Circuit’s decision not to grant standing to the California nonprofit organization in Caldwell’s court is a good sign for Sandlin.
“We beat the Animal Legal Defense Fund” in the first case, Morris said. “That’s a big win.”