Need your help NOW! THIS BILL IS ON THE MOVE! Please contact the Committee Members below!
OPPPOSE HB 234: Texans’ Property Rights in Animals at Stake:Government Does not Always Get it Right
(Bill Makes Appeal Bonds Too Expensive so No Appeals in Animal Seizures)
HB 234 tacks on the Government’s attorney fees (unheard of) for a bond to appeal the hearing (not a trial). Why? So the bond will be so expensive no one can afford an appeal.
The Government Does not Always Get it Right. If animals are seized that does not always mean the owner was cruel. These are property cases and can divest you of your animals forever. I vigorously support enforcement of animal cruelty laws but sometimes these cases have been pursued against people who were not cruel.
Hearing, Not a Trial & Not a Jury. In civil animal seizures an owner gets a hearing before a judge that is oftentimes not even an attorney (JP Courts do not require judge to be a lawyer).
Hearings are Stacked Against the Owner. The hearing occurs very quickly and can be the next day after the animals are taken so the owner often does not have an attorney. He’s usually alone facing a county attorney, investigators, sometimes vets, peace officer who got the warrant, and all of them will testify against the owner.
Appeal is the ONLY way to get a Trial & Jury. The ONLY way an owner gets a trial and a jury is if he can appeal the order from the hearing. In a hearing, there is not a jury.
Animal Control & Shelters Receiving Seized Animals Do NOT Want Appeals. They do not want you to have an appeal because justice can be inconvenient and diminishes their power to take animals.
The Right to an Appeal & Jury Prevents Unbridled Government Power to Seize Property.
For a while in Texas, there were no appeals and some far reaching seizures took place. A prime example of the abuse that occurred was the case of the “fat” horse. The alleged “fat” horse was taken from a man’s property with NO notice when he was NOT there, NO seizure warrant, and because the hearing was a couple of days later, he showed up in court with NO attorney (could not find one), and faced all these witnesses against him ALONE scared and embarrassed with NO witnesses for him. The allegation was he was cruel because his mare was too fat. She was about to deliver a foal. The owner tried to tell the judge to no avail so he lost his registered, beautiful Quarter Horse forever. And, Animal Planet was filming the hearing against his wishes.
How to Prevent Appeals: Make them too Expensive. HB 234 tacks on the Government’s attorney fees (unheard of) to appeal bonds so that they will be too costly and no one can get an appeal.
No Attorney Fees for the Owner.
If the owner wins, he or she does not get their attorney fees (if they were fortunate enough to have one) or expenses reimbursed.
Appeal Bonds in Seizures: NOT a % of the Bond. The owner has to pay the full bond to appeal, not a percentage of it like in criminal cases. Owners must put up cash or collateral in the amount of the bond. Murderers can get a criminal bond easier than an animal owner in a civil property case.
Your Rights are at Stake. Call & Email the Texas Senate Committee and tell them NO to HB 234!! Make sure any emails state your opposition in the subject title!!
Senate Committee on Criminal Justice
Committee Senators and their Staffers (listed below the senator):
Sen. John Whitmire
Sen. Joan Huffman
Sen. Konni Burton
Sen. Brandon Creighton
Sen. Juan Hinojosa
Sen. Jose Menendez
Sen. Charles Perry