The 2018 Animal Law Institute will take place on Friday, April 27, 2018 at 8:30 am at the Renaissance Hotel in Austin. The schedule below will be updated as more information becomes available.

8:00-8:30 am Check In
8:30-9:30 am Texas Animal Cruelty Laws 101
This session will review the importance and challenges of prosecuting animal cruelty cases under Texas laws and the wide range of acts and omissions that can constitute statutory animal cruelty along with the recent change by the Texas legislature to the Texas animal cruelty law. She will also discuss leading case law following the animal cruelty sections of the Texas Penal code. She will also review how and why to consider becoming a resource counsel within your department for animal cruelty cases (if your county attorney or district attorney does not have an animal cruelty unit) and forming strong working relationships with your criminal justice partners, which may involve non-attorneys and affect third parties’ rights.
Jessica Milligan, Esq.,
Chief District Attorney,
Animal Cruelty Unit,
Harris County District Attorneys’ Office
9:30-10:30 am The Intersection of Domestic Violence & Animal Abuse
Renewed interest in how animal cruelty and neglect are frequently linked with domestic violence, child abuse, child sexual abuse, and elder abuse are prompting many communities to educate attorneys to assist in reducing all forms of family violence. Animal abuse and family violence do not exist in isolation and has long been recognized as a signature pathology of some of the world’s most serious violent offenders such as David Berkowitz (who poisoned his mother’s parakeet), Jeffrey Dahmer (who impaled the heads of cats and dogs on sticks) and Ted Bundy (who reportedly watched his grandfather torture animals). This session will focus on the link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence and cases under Texas law as well as practical application in the investigation, including the safekeeping of living property, and prosecution of statutory animal cruelty and neglect cases including whether such evidence is admissible in court, what impact the link may have on the imposition of a sentence, and how we might further use appropriate candor to educate and sensitize judges, defense counsel, colleagues and, confidentiality of information which may need to be shared with landlords or veterinarians, or the public with respect to this this important issue.
Jaime Kate Olin, Esq.,
Legal Advocacy Counsel
10:30-10:45 am Break
10:45-11:45 am Understanding Animal Hoarding
This session will focus on the nature of animal hoarding, the differences and similarities of animal and material hoarding, define the model of how animal hoarders become animal hoarders and understand how local communities address animal hoarding and resources available for individuals and impacted animals. Hoarding is recognized as a disability and the effect to which attorneys may avoid representing these individuals without discrimination relating to their disability will be discussed as will be the objectives of representation for such clients and declining or terminating representation. Discussions will continue regarding the safekeeping of previously hoarded animal property throughout an investigation or trial and the role of an attorney as an advocate for the represented organization, the animal as property, and the organizational client.
Jamey Cantrell Animal Services Director, City of Plano and President, TACA (Texas Animal Control Association)
11:45-12:00 pm Break/Lunch
12:00-1:00 pm Lunch-time Keynote: Passing Animal Bills at the Capitol
In the 2017 legislative session, Rep. Moody, a former assistant district attorney from El Paso, was critical in strengthening the animal cruelty statute as well as passing the law that bans bestiality in the state of Texas. The Representative and attorney will discuss from a legislator’s point of view as well as an attorney’s point of view how animal bills are passed at the Capitol, while using the animal centered legislation in the 2017 legislative session. He will discuss the animal cruelty enhancements bill and the bestiality bill recently passed as they related the community and respecting the rights of other unrepresented third persons.
The Honorable Joe Moody, Esq., Texas State Representative for District 78, El Paso, Texas
Former El Paso County Assistant District Attorney
1:00-2:00 pm Blood Sports Under Texas Law
Mr. Munoz, Jr. is Texas’ premiere animal fighting expert who provides training to law enforcement officials and government attorneys that investigate and/or prosecute blood sports, such as dog fighting and cockfighting, across the country. Mr. Munoz will present the definition of blood sports, the animals commonly used in these illegal practices and present on collaborations with prosecutors and law enforcement as well as other agencies to spearhead investigations involving blood sports. This topic includes background on dogfighting, cockfighting, and illegal animal abuse in Texas and the laws that outlaw these sports federally and under the Texas Penal Code. He will also discuss how dogfighting and cockfighting are associated with other felony crimes, and how to detect animal fighting. These matters nearly always involve dealing with unrepresented individuals and produce extreme challenges in the safekeeping of involved animals as property, which may need to be receive medical attention or euthanized and deal with multifaceted public interest activities.
Arturo Munoz, Jr.
Special Investigator,
Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit, Dallas County District Attorney’s Office
Director and Chief Investigator, Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit
SPCA of Texas
2:00-3:00 pm Preparing and Prosecuting Animal Cruelty Cases
This session will focus on practical strategies for successfully prosecuting animal cruelty cases as a public interest activity when a government organization is your client. Topics will include: the many ways to prove “suffering”, examining key terms in respect to animal prosecutions, educating your audience and judge with candor, using exhibits, and making the most of an expert witness. We will also address the ins and outs of communicating with unrepresented parties, giving advice and making truthful statements with candor with respect to ongoing investigations, including consideration of when and how to seize animals and maintain them as safely maintained property, and other helpful advice. Finally, the session will cover making the best use of court procedures and orders including bail conditions, sentencing options and ancillary orders to meet the objectives of prosecution. This included specific tips and approaches for prosecuting animal cruelty files efficiently and effectively, and how to effectively give truthful advice regarding ongoing investigations.
David Alex, Esq.
Tarrant County District Attorneys’ Office

Felicia Kearney,

Felicia Kerney, Esq., Dallas County District Attorneys’ Office

3:00-3:15 pm Break
3:15-4:15 pm Ag Gag Laws
Laws that criminalize the recording and photographing of slaughterhouses and other commercial enterprises. What are Ag-Gag laws? Why should we care about them? How do they affect the safety of the United States food supply? How can lawyers discuss the conditions of food facilities in a manner that maintains the ethical obligations of truthfulness generally and candor to a tribunal? What implications do they have for our First Amendment rights? “Ag-Gag” laws seek to “gag” would-be whistleblowers and undercover activists by punishing them for recording and disseminating footage of animal agriculture practices. This presentation will include an overview of the status of Ag-Gag laws in the United States and a review of how Ag-Gag laws affect the safety of our food supply and our First Amendment rights.
Mark Walters. Esq.
Jackson Walker

Kelley Dwyer. Esq.
The Dwyer Law Firm

4:15-5:15 pm Best practices for Animal Related Non-Profits
In this presentation, Ms. Schwarz will focus on the corporate side of an animal-related non-profits and where animal cruelty can intersect. This includes but is not limited to best practices for animal non-profit bylaws, board meetings and board resolutions and insurance best practices including discussion of D&O, general liability, employment practices liability, and special events coverage. She will also discuss how to best represent your client if they are receiving animals that have been seized. She will also discuss the role of the Texas attorney general, fundraising regulations, gift acceptance policies and statutes and planned giving as a segment of estate planning law.
Claire Schwarz, Esq.
The Schwarz Law Firm

The 2018 Institute is in the process of being reviewed for 8.0 hours of MCLE credit. We will update this page with information about MCLE credit as it becomes available.