Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Witness Allowed to Have Service Dog Nearby While on Witness Stand

Every once and a while, a criminal court decision is handed down that could some day have impact in a civil litigation matter.

In the case of Commonwealth v. Purnell, 2020 Pa. Super 127 (Pa. Super. May 28, 2020), the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the trial court did not err in allowing a comfort dog to be seated near an autistic witness at trial, even if the dog was up at the witness stand.

The court ruled that neither necessity nor need was required to allow for the presence of the dog in the courtroom, provided that it was established to the court that the animal would alleviate the stress that the witness may experience on the witness stand and would help the witness to testify truthfully and completely.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Court Summaries” by Timothy L. Clawges, Pennsylvania Bar News (June 29, 2020).

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