As strange as it may sound, in the past animals were often accused of crimes and brought to trial. In 16th century France a lawyer by the name of Bartholomew Chassenee became well known for a case in which he defended a group of rats.
So I started wondering what it might be like if this practice had continued to this day. It seems like a perfect fit for the current reality TV craze and the attack on Roy (from Siegfried & Roy) by that tiger during one of their shows back in 2003 is a good place to start…
Judge: Call your next witness counselor.
Prosecutor: The prosecution calls to the stand Mrs. Ruth Hoyle. Now Mrs. Hoyle, you were sitting in the front row when the attack occurred, could you describe what happened?
Mrs. Hoyle: Well, everything had been going just fine until the tiger started moving towards the audience. Roy tried to stop it, but then the tiger turned on Roy, grabbed him by the neck and started shaking him like a gaudily dressed, well coifed rag doll…there was blood and sequins everywhere!
Prosecutor: And is it fair to say that you were traumatized by this horrific incident?
Mrs. Hoyle: Oh yes! To this day I can’t attend a magic show, go to a zoo or even eat Frosted Flakes.
Prosecutor: No further questions your honor.
Judge: Does the defense wish to question the witness?
Defense attorney: Yes, your honor. Mrs. Hoyle isn’t true that you’ve always hated tigers…that you are afraid of any strong and independent animal. Isn’t it true that in order to win your affection an animal has to be cute, cuddly and harmless…
Prosecutor: I object, your honor! The defense is merely trying to spark an emotional response in the jury by playing the species card.
Judge: Objection sustained. The jury will disregard the possibility that the witness is a hate filled bigot.
Defense attorney: Fine, in that case your honor, with the court’s permission I would like to call to the stand as our final witness, the illustrious pet psychic Mr. Edward Shelton. Now, Mr.Shelton have you conducted an "interview" with the defendant? (He points to a caged tiger on the other side of the courtroom)
Mr. Shelton: Yes, I spoke to the tiger.
Defense attorney: What did you find out?
Mr. Shelton: Well, first of all, he feels terrible about what happened. It was all just a misunderstanding. You see, he thinks of Roy as another male tiger and this was just a challenge.
Defense attorney: A challenge over what?
Mr. Shelton: Not what…whom. It turns out that the tiger has a thing for Siegfried.
Judge: (mumbles) Join the club.
Defense attorney: And did you inform him that Siegfried is also a male?
Mr.Shelton: Yes, he seemed quite surprised by that, but he thought about it for a while and said he’s try anything once.
Defense attorney: So you’re saying that this was a crime of passion, an unfortunate consequence of powerful natural instincts and not a cold blooded attempt at murder!
Mr. Shelton: Absolutely…can I go now? There’s a beached whale dying about two miles from here and I’m supposed to take its last confession.
Judge: You may step down. The jury will now retire to render its verdict.
(Ten minutes later)
Jury foreman: We the jury find the defendant… not guilty! Can we go too? We want to see that psychic dude talk to that whale.
Judge: OK, everybody pile into my Hummer and let’s get going.
Defense attorney: Shotgun! I called it!
Justice triumphs again…I don’t know about you, but I get all goose pimply just thinking about it.