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Pet Law:

A California Court of Appeal decision (People v. Quintero) reverses, on state law grounds, a probation condition requiring that the probationer (who had been convicted of methamphetamine possession) "[k]eep the probation officer informed of place of residence, cohabitants and pets, and give written notice to the probation officer twenty-four (24) hours prior to any changes. The court applied the California Supreme Court's test for probation conditions -- "A condition of probation will not be held invalid unless it '(1) has no relationship to the crime of which the offender was convicted, (2) relates to conduct which is not in itself criminal, and (3) requires or forbids conduct which is not related to future criminality'" -- and reasoned that all three elements were satisfied.

The dissent argued that the condition was nonetheless valid because it helped protect the probation officer against surprising encounters with the probationer's possibly dangerous pets. But, much more importantly, the dissent also provided the first judicial citation that I could find to cuteoverload.com.

lucia (mail) (www):
What's next? Citations to stuffonmycat.com ?
9.28.2006 5:51pm
John (mail):
It is sort of surprising that there doesn't appear to be anything in California law allowing orders that deal with the probationary process itself, rather than simply with recidivism. Are all states like this?
9.28.2006 6:04pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
Nah... citations to goatse, just to see if you'll check it.
9.28.2006 6:04pm
tinooba:
A goatse.cx citation would make perfect sense in an Internet obscenity case, ex:

The Internet, as a community, has vastly lower standards of obscenity than any physical community, which has resulted not only proliferation of works that would be obscene in any other community, but their attainment of cult status. See, e.g. http://www.goatse.cx.
9.28.2006 6:33pm
ssd:
My wife happens to be a Federal Probation Officer so I asked her about the concern with potentially dangerous animals. She said that over 95% of officer shootings (and non-lethal encounters invloving pepper spray or batons) involve aggressive animals held by probationers. In fact, her partner was bitten by a very large goose--no joke!--and sprayed it with mace with no effect. He managed to get out of the yard without having to shoot it though. ;)

Anyway, it seems that once again a court has decided that probationer/criminal convenience is more important that the safety of law-enforcement personnel.
9.28.2006 6:46pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
A goatse.cx reference on volokh.com... It may be highbrow and academic, but it's still the net ;)
9.28.2006 6:57pm
elChato (mail):
Ludicrous. Yet another example of the application of "tests" and "factors" to reach senseless results; it shouldn't have taken much to realize the state needs to keep up with people who are on probation, and to know if they've got a pit bull in the house.
9.28.2006 6:58pm
Adam K:
The court has done nothing to stop the legislature from writing a law that is actually tailored to the "safety" objective.
9.28.2006 7:51pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Adam K: Exactly so! We need more 2,000-page laws to cover every exigent possibility so that there's absolute clarity in "what the law says." And when something new falls through the cracks, well, we'll just mandate 2,001-page laws.
9.28.2006 8:13pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
Well, Pit Bulls are large strong dogs, so if one bites you, it will make you notice.

They're also used as therapy dogs because of their sturdiness and even temperament.

I've never run into a mean one, and have met many on my bicycle commutes.

Any dog trained by an adolescent male is likely to be pretty insane, for a large class of adolescent males, though.

An actual guard dog needs almost the opposite training : they're no good unless they can make very fine distinctions about people reliably. Then they can work at liberty, which is what makes them useful.
9.28.2006 8:29pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Even a small dog can bark and give warning to a probationer of an approaching person (i.e., giving time to flush the drugs). But this requirement covers fish and turtles too.

The legislature doesn't need to tailor the law. The judge just needs to tailor the condition.

Nick
9.28.2006 10:58pm
zooba:
NickM: That's ridiculous. So the judge has to decide, for every animal in the world, whether it is sufficiently dangerous and then put it on a list that the probationer has to notify the probation department about.

Just imagine that:
Sharks
Wildebeasts
Tazmanian Devils
Wild Boars
Mongooses
Snakes
Crocodiles
Camens
Lions, Tigers, and Bears oh my!
9.28.2006 11:13pm
NickM (mail) (www):
zooba - did you know that keeping the vast majority of those is already illegal, and is therefore a violation of the standard term of probation about obeying other laws?

Nick
9.28.2006 11:31pm
Peter Wimsey:
The opinion - as written, not as summarized - seems reasonable to me and gives the court plenty of leeway.
Here, however, no one had any reason to think that defendant here owned a pit bull or a tiger, or for that matter a goldfish, a golden retriever, a tadpole, or a tabby cat. If facts could have been brought to show that a defendant is likely to have, or to live on premises that have, a dangerous animal, then there might be some justification for a probation condition narrowly tailored to avoiding the anticipated danger. But the condition imposed, which related to all pets without limitation, was overbroad and unreasonable.
4. Disposition
The trial court is directed to strike the reference to "pets" in probation condition No. 8A. The trial court may, however, modify the terms of probation to include a condition narrowly tailored to address concerns about dangerous animals when probation officers conduct home visits. In all other respects, the judgment is affirmed.


9.28.2006 11:34pm