- California, USA -
UPDATE on 34-year-old KATIE RHIANNON SMITH.
How many times have we said that judges who try animal cruelty cases have the power to send a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated?
How many times judges have failed animals by handing down ridiculous sentences that effectively condone the abuse or the killing of an innocent animal?
We have often said that those kinds of judges are a disgrace and should be disbarred.
Look at the dog pictured below and see if you recognize him even before reading the story…
That’s the German Shepherd now widely known as Thunder the Wonder Dog.
In December 2019, the furbaby was found wandering in Jackson State Demonstration Forest several days after he had been shot.
His front left leg was injured, he had been abused, he was wearing a cone that prevented him from eating or drinking, and he had large, bloodied gashes on his head and left side.
The short version of his story is that he was rescued, nursed back to health, and he thankfully found a new furever home.
While Thunder was being cared for, Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputies looked for local information about the “owners” named in the microchip registration and found a cell number for them.
Thunder’s guardians (a husband and a wife) showed up to surrender the dog to the nonprofit that had Thunder in their care.
The wife, KATIE RHIANNON SMITH, admitted shooting the dog with a handgun in an effort to put him down.
Here comes the scandalous update.
The Press Democrat reports that on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, KATIE RHIANNON SMITH appeared before Superior Court Judge CLAYTON BRENNAN.
Judge BRENNAN reduced SMITH’s felony animal cruelty conviction to a misdemeanor.
Judge BRENNAN gave SMITH three years of unsupervised probation — which could be reduced to a single year in January under a new law then taking effect.
SMITH will serve no jail time.
Judge BRENNAN denied prosecutors’ request that she be prohibited from owning animals during her probation.
Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster described the sentence as a miscarriage of justice and said it had squandered the time and efforts of his prosecutors and sent a message to animal abusers that they will not be punished, reports The Press Democrat.
A five-page press release by Eyster’s office after the hearing was headlined “Christmas Arrives Early For Dog Shooter.”
Judge BRENNAN had the power to give justice to an abused animal and he failed him miserably.
District Attorney David Eyster condemned his decision as “shocking” and a “travesty of justice.”
The good news is that according to Lake County News, on Monday, January 4, District Attorney Eyster has announced that “effective immediately he has directed all deputy prosecutors to file peremptory challenges to disqualify and prevent Superior Court Judge Clayton Brennan from hearing any pending criminal case or future cases that will be filed in which a defendant is charged with animal cruelty.”
DA Eyster will also seek appellate review of BRENNAN’s decision in this case.
According to Lake County News, DA Eyster said that California jurisprudence and statutory law allow district attorneys to refuse to accept a judge on a particular case or certain types of cases if it is believed that the judge is “so biased against the People that he or she cannot be entrusted with the fair administration of justice.”
DA Eyster also said: “The judge currently sitting in the Ten Mile Court in Fort Bragg has betrayed community standards and community trust. He has made it abundantly clear that he has no use for, does not value, and is biased against law enforcement and the community’s ongoing efforts to seek justice against those who victimize animals and use firearms to commit felonies. Accordingly, I deem him legally unfit to sit as a judge on the types of criminal cases described above.”
Hats off to you District Attorney David Eyster!
Well, seems to me this is the way to go if we want animal cruelty to be taken seriously!