Animal Law Review

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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.

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