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Trials & Litigation

Reggie the Poodle Assists Vulnerable Witnesses in Sacramento Criminal Court

Posted Aug 16, 2012 3:31 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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Some defense lawyers are giving the Sacramento County district attorney’s office a "ruff" time regarding a member of their victim witness unit, who happens to be a standard poodle named Reggie.

Pets in court could influence the jury, say some, but there’s a growing trend in state courts allowing “comfort dogs” to accompany children and other vulnerable witnesses during testimony, Marcia Christian, Reggie’s handler, told the Sacramento Bee.

"Children cannot always verbalize their anxieties and their fears to us," Sacramento County victim advocate Tatiana Morfas told the paper. "Once they connect with Reggie, you can see their faces change. He makes them comfortable and secure in an environment that can be really scary and traumatic."

Joel Deckler, a defense lawyer who last year objected to the canine’s presence in an assault case–and was overruled–says it’s not personal.

"I like Reggie," Deckler told the paper. "My wife and I, our next dog may be a standard poodle. But this was a unique situation and I had to protect my client's rights."

Related article:

ABAJournal.com: "Therapy Dog Is Cute, but Sends Jurors Wrong Message, Defense Lawyers Say"

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