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Hearing in animal cruelty case gets testy
A Kitsap County courtroom turned testy on Tuesday morning during an arraignment hearing for an Olalla couple facing animal cruelty charges.
The arraignment, typically a mundane procedural hearing when defendants enter a plea before a trial is set, quickly turned into a heated discussion involving defense attorney Paul Richmond and a prosecutor while others scheduled to be arraigned during the court session were left to wait.
Richmond, a Port Townsend attorney, is representing Simon Bailey and Rosalind G. Yorba-Bailey, who are accused of failing to provide proper care for more than 150 animals that were seized from their 5-acre farm by the Kitsap Humane Society in November.
With a dozen supporters of the Baileys watching in the courtroom, Richmond disputed every claim brought against the middle-aged couple, along with entering a not-guilty plea on their behalf.
Richmond claimed the couple had not received any sort of due process regarding the animal cruelty charges or the seizure of their animals. He said authorities had failed to notify the couple of the charges in writing, and they only heard about their arraignment hearing through documents sent to them by a concerned reporter.
“There has been an utter lack of due process here,” Richmond told District Court Judge Jeffrey Jahns.
Senior deputy prosecuting attorney Barbara Dennis, who came into court midway through the hearing, was clearly upset that a simple arraignment had turned into a trial atmosphere. She said the idea that the couple had not received due process was ridiculous.
“There have been a plethora of proceedings,” she said, noting that adoption and petition issues raised by Richmond are civil matters.
Among the most egregious instances of lack of due process, Richmond claimed the courts have neglected to address the couples’ petition seeking return of their animals. Since the Nov. 10 seizure, the animals have been held by Kitsap Humane Society, with some of the larger animals transported to Center Valley Animal Rescue in Quilcene.
State law allows owners of seized animals to petition for their release. According to Richmond, two petitions were filed by the Baileys for the return of their animals, on Nov. 28 and again on Dec. 28. District court records show a petition was filed Dec. 30.
Richmond said that the animals have not been returned, and some have even been put up for adoption.
“We are trying to stop this adoption,” he said.
Jahns directed Richmond to write up an order to be submitted later Tuesday that would stop any further adoptions of the seized animals on the grounds that they could be considered evidence in the criminal trial. He set a hearing on the merits of the petition for the Baileys to get their animals back on Jan. 11, while a pretrial hearing on the criminal charges is scheduled for Feb. 7.
Sara Penhallegon, Center Valley Animal Rescue director, said in a telephone interview Tuesday night that some of the Olalla farm animals the center accepted from the Humane Society are in good health again, and will continue to be available for adoption.
“People think they have a right to own animals; but really it’s a privilege to own an animal,” Penhallegon said.
After the hearing, Richmond said the Humane Society was overstepping its bounds, and noted “The agricultural community is really banding around the Baileys. This is a case animal rights activists should get involved with.”
Charles T. Kirkham came from Edmonds to give his moral support to the couple. He said he became friends with the Baileys after buying two pigs for roast.
“I’m very emotional about this issue,” he said. “They weren’t mean to their animals once. They showed nothing but love and care.”
Kirkham agreed with Richmond that the Humane Society had greatly overstepped their legal bounds, saying the organization showed little thought about people who raise animals for food.
“The lady in charge had a personal agenda against people raising animals for food,” he said. “You want to eat vegetables, that’s fine. But don’t tell me you can’t raise them (animals) for food.”