Friday, October 24, 2008

Ontario Court of Appeals Decision

From: Steve Barker
Sent: October 24, 2008 11:08 AM
Subject: Ontario Court of Appeals Decision

Ontario Court of Appeals has reversed ALL findings of unconstitutionality by the original trial judge. Law is back to its original state of enactment from August 2005.

1. "pit bull" and "pit bull terrier" are publicly recognized terms that were included by the legislature for enhanced public understanding.

2. The word "includes" can be followed by an exhaustive list.

3. The acceptance of a veterinary certificate stating that a dog is a "pit bull" does not place an undue burden on the accused, especially because it is highly unlikely that a trial judge would deny cross-examination of the veterinarian and because that section explicitly requires that the crown must still prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

All of our arguments regarding vagueness (pit bull can't be defined) and overbreadth (a ban is grossly disproportionate to the threat) were rejected.

The Appeals Court determined that the phrase "substantially similar", when combined with the three breed standards, is sufficient for there to be legal argument regarding whether or not a dog is a "pit bull".

The Appeals Court determined that the government does not require determinative scientific evidence of dangerousness before acting and that the government can depend on logic, reason, and "some social science evidence" to determine if a particular danger needs to be addressed. It appears that the primary evidence that persuaded the court was that "pit bulls have a tendency to be unpredictable and that even apparently docile pit bulls may attack without warning or provocation"

, thus justifying a total ban in order to ensure public safety.

Text version of decision:

Adobe Acrobat version of decision:

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