A number of people have been in touch regarding the status of this horse abuse case, and I apologize for the delay in posting an update. As is always the case this time of year, with the short days--things are hectic!
Regarding your queries about communicating directly with the judge presiding over the case: According to what we were told by a staff member, prior to the judgment, any communications, favorable to the Defendant or inflammatory, received by the judge, are rejected. At this point in the process, we are still dealing with a presumption of innocence. After a guilty ruling, prior to sentencing, communications are considered. The District Attorney’s office is the appropriate recipient of such communications, and passes them on to the judge.
Regarding the current activities in the courtroom, we were told that, if we want to know what’s going on, we should attend the proceedings in person. They are open to the public. (Previously, the Grand Jury proceedings were conducted in secret.) The next appearance is for hearings at the Orange County Court on January 8th, 2010, before Judge Jeffrey Berry. Perhaps someone could attend and report to the rest of us?
In a nutshell, the case is proceeding through various legal hearings. The attorneys of the defendants, Keum Lee and her husband, Chong Lee, have submitted various motions that the Court must consider and decide upon--hence, these hearings. A motion is this: a written or oral application made to a court or judge to obtain a ruling or order directing that some act be done in favor of the applicant--to suppress evidence, for instance, that the defendants might argue was illegally obtained and might have an effect on the outcome of prosecution of the charges against them. In short, the Court must decide upon the foundations of the case so that it can proceed in an actual courtroom. This is the phase in which our case is now engaged, so every few weeks, a hearing takes place, and things progress from there.
About the only significant development of which we are aware, is this: the Lees have employed separate lawyers at this time--this is recent. It does appear that the case is going to go the distance, in a court room--and this is what, all along, we have been hoping would happen. Felony charges are rarely brought in the case of horse abuse, as horses are generally considered livestock farm animals, and thus, have little protection from human abuse above the misdemeanor level--if that. Why? Because legally providing protection for farm animals would very much complicate issues for the huge factory farming industries; considered products, rather than living entities who feel fear, pain--who suffer when treated cruelly and kept in filthy conditions--farm animals have essentially no protection from the tortures inflicted on them during the course of their often truly horrifically miserable lives. Considering horses as companion animals, rather than livestock, because of the interactive nature of their use--and the lack of their presence, at an establishment, as a food product--will lay the groundwork for strengthening their legally enforceable protection from human cruelties--across the state. And hopefully, eventually, across the nation. And any legal issues that are resolved by strengthening protection, of animals, from human cruelties--is progress.
And so, a successful prosecution of this case will, indeed, have far-reaching effects. The language of the law is--restrictive, and shades of gray. Successfully prosecuting this case on the felony level will be a challenge, but--we are ever hopeful. It is our belief that the ADA and DA are fully committed to obtaining justice, and protection, for these two horses who have documentably suffered, so very much. This commitment has always been utterly essential.
Thanks to everyone of you for NOT forgetting this case is in progress--for NOT forgetting Suzi and Whisk, and the terrible pain they have endured. Do know, we'll keep you posted as events unfold--and unfold, they will.
In closing: Happy Holidays to all! And thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for caring--and continuing to care for all suffering animals. There are so very many. Individuals, each. Just, like--us. We cannot forget them. And, we must never stop fighting to achieve respect for what they are, how they feel--and how much they are forced, at the hand of humans, to endure--both screaming, and in silence.
Questions about parrots? Diet, behavior, disease--you name it, go to the New York Birds website: NewYorkBirds.net.