Friday, August 31, 2007

Judge Spares Dog from Euthanasia

The executor of an estate sought an order to have the decedent's dog euthanized because the late owner had spoiled it so badly she believed that the dog could not be happy with anyone else. King County Superior Court Judge Hugh C. Todd denied the order on humanitarian grounds.

This story is old news -- it was covered in the Seattle P-I Sept. 10, 1955 -- but, as regular readers of this blog know, I can't resist a good dog story. The case can be seen as a harbinger of arguments made by contemporary animal law advocates who say that animals should be seen as more than personal property. As Judge Todd said: a dog has some rights too.

Hugh C. Todd served on the King County Superior Court from 1934 to 1959. When I checked to see if it had anything about him, I found Plot to sink the MV Hiye Maru in Elliott Bay fails on January 20, 1938 (Daryl C. McClary, December 28, 2005). Two Canadian men had conspired to sink a Japanese freighter to aid the China in its war against Japan. One man died of hypothermia while trying to place the bomb; Judge Todd presided over the trial of the survivor. Again, this isn't current news about trials and trial practice, but it's a fascinating story nonetheless. The survivor was acquitted, by the way, because of his testimony that he acted under duress.

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