Ruff Justice: Therapy Dog Stands By Client at Civil Jury Trial
December 20, 2017 | By: Erin Murray
Some witnesses face more challenges taking the stand than others. Vulnerable witnesses with a history of severe anxiety or difficult courtroom experiences may be unable to give their evidence in a clear, coherent manner without special assistance.
In a recent civil jury trial, a young client asked if her therapy dog could attend with her on the stand. At our request, Justice Quinlan permitted the therapy dog to attend court as a testimonial aid as part of her inherent jurisdiction to control all matters of conduct in the courtroom.
Fergus, the therapy dog, is a 5 year old Great Pyrenees. Fergus attended the Barrie Superior Court of Justice on November 30th, 2017 with his handler, Kim Haus. It was Fergus’s first court appearance. Fergus sat quietly at our client’s feet during her several hours of testimony. He reduced our client’s anxiety with his calming presence and assisted her in giving her evidence. Fergus caused no disruptions and was, by all accounts, a very good boy in court.