holmes 052721SPRINGFIELD – Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes’ (D-Aurora) measure to add more safeguards in the courts for abused animals has passed the Illinois House.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 153, which would give trial courts discretion in prosecutions for cruelty to companion animals to appoint a supervised law student to assist the court as a special advocate.

“Animal abuse cases may end in dismissed charges or reduced sentences for animal owners accused of cruelty, often because prosecutors have good intentions but not enough resources for research and information to make a strong case,” Holmes said. “These advocates can aid the courts in working for consistent reinforcement of Illinois’ mandate to properly protect companion animals.”

Holmes also pointed out there is a well-documented cycle of violence between those who abuse humans and those who abuse animals. Domestic violence perpetrators have a history of animal cruelty in their pasts, as do murderers, so bringing animal abusers to justice could help save human lives.

“I’m very grateful to Jane McBride, Esq., President and Chief Executive Officer of Illinois Humane, who brought this bill to me,” Holmes said. “She did a lot of work getting this crafted and edited to make it pass successfully.”

The law students, authorized to provide services under Supreme Court Rule 711, can assist with legal research and technical assistance specific to the well-being of the subject animal, and help identify and select expert witnesses.

The law students would work without pay or cost to the court. As special advocates, they receive courtroom and investigatory experience.

The organizations advocating for Senate Bill 153 include Best Friends Animal Society, Illinois Humane, the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Animal Welfare Institute.  

Senate Bill 153 has now passed the House and Senate.

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