Courtroom Canines

It’s no secret that many of the Law Library staff are animal lovers. Whether we’re fond of felines or prefer pooches, you would not have to go far to find someone that can testify to the therapeutic effects of our furry friends. The folks at Yale Law Library’s would likely agree; their pilot therapy dog program was a smash with stressed out students.  

So we were touched to read this article about Rosie, a therapy dog who helped a young victim through her courtroom testimony.

This is not the first time a dog has assisted in courtroom proceedings. there’s even an organization, Courthouse Dogs, that will help interested parties set up a courtroom therapy dog program.

But this latest trial has raised some interesting legal questions. It seems Rosie is in the doghouse for being too likable: defense lawyers claim that the dog’s presence caused jury bias:

The defense’s appeal of Rosie’s first courtroom outing, in the rape case, is likely to establish legal principles on the issues of dogs in the witness box. “It is an important case, and appeals courts will consider it an important case,” James A. Cohen, a professor of criminal law at Fordham University School of Law, said.

We’ll be watching for the outcome of this one for sure.