In 2011, a relatively routine animal neglect investigation spawned a line of litigation that would eventually reach the Oregon Supreme Court. Along the way, this case-State v. Newcomb-raised issues central to both constitutional and animal law, involving inquiry into how animals are situated under the law, the \.Veight of a defendant's privacy versus an animal's interests, and what relevance attaches to animals existing as feeling, sentient creatures. In analyzing Newcomb, this Comment discusses the case facts in Part I, before laying out the arguments heard-and decisions rendered-by the trial and appellate courts in Part II. Part III reads the Oregon Supreme Court's Newcomb opinion in the context of two earlier Oregon animal criminal cases: State v. Fessenden and State v. Nix. This Comment argues the three, Fessenden, Nix, and Newcomb, form a trilogy of cases, which in turn reveal a jurisprudence that approaches the legal status of animals critically, rejecting absolutist constructs that insist animals must either be situated analogous to any other property or analogous to humans. Finally, this Comment examines the practical, jurisprudential, and strategic implications of the Oregon Supreme Court's holding in Newcomb, before outlining as-of-yet unanswered questions the case points toward.
Lora Dunn & David B. Rosengard,
A Dog is Not a Stereo: The Role of Animal Sentience in Determining the Scope of Owner Privacy Interests Under Oregon Law,
Animal L. Rev.
Available at: https://lawcommons.lclark.edu/alr/vol23/iss2/8