Saturday, February 28, 2009

Trial. The Plaintiffs Rest. Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. February 2009.

Back in November 2008, animal rights advocates and organizations were disappointed when the trial of Ringling Barnum & Bailey Circus didn't begin as scheduled due to another dilatory tactic by the defendants. They introduced another set of experts that necessarily had to be vetted, or cross-examined, by the plaintiffs before the trial could begin. Ringling has successfully delayed their court appearance by several years by employing such dilatory tactics. In August 2007, Tracy Silverman, General Counsel for the Animal Welfare Institute, said "After five years of legal wrangling, we look forward to unveiling the curtain at trial to expose the suffering and death of elephants at the hands of the so-called 'Greatest Show on Earth". These magnificent animals will finally have their day in Court."

Back then, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the federal district court in Washington D.C. scolded the circus for "wasting a considerable amount of time and resources" by employing "dilatory" tactics over several years.

The trial finally began in early February 2009 and since then the plaintiffs have decided to avoid public updates on the trial in an effort preserve and protect their case. And so animal welfare advocates have been in the dark so far. I managed to reach Tracy Silverman who graciously provided me with some basic information. According to Ms. Silverman, the court works on a 4-day week schedule, Friday being the free day. She also confirmed that the plaintiffs have rested their case. So, in other words, the plaintiffs have finished arguing their case. The court is now waiting for the defense to make their case, and that is expected to begin on Tuesday, March 3rd. Ms. Silverman expects this phase of the trial to take at least two weeks, possible three. Doing the simple math, we can expect the trial to end around the third week of March 2009. Ms. Silverman expressed some hope for presenting in the very near future the exhibits submitted as evidence by the plaintiffs, now that they have rested their case. The Animal Welfare Institute has a webpage dedicated to the trial, and you can see it at : http://www.awionline.org/wildlife/elephants/rbsuit.htm

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