Man’s Best Friend Inside the Courtroom

September 02, 2015

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right of a defendant to confront their accuser in court. “[I]t is this literal right to ‘confront’ the witness at the time of trial that forms the core of the values furthered by the Confrontation Clause[.]”). California v. Green, 399 U.S. 149, 157 (1970). Unless a trial results in a conviction, that defendant is presumed to be innocent. However, in some instances, testifying at trial can be an unpleasant and often traumatic experience, particularly for children.

To combat this, some courts are allowing the use of dogs to provide a calming presence for the witness who is testifying. Dogs used inside courtrooms have gone through some basic coursework. It takes about two years before dogs are used regularly to put witnesses at ease. In Indiana, that training occurs at three Indiana correctional facilities: the Indiana Women’s Prison, the Plainfield Correctional Facility, and the Correctional Industrial Facility. (last visited August 23, 2015). While primarily used by prosecutor’s offices, one defense attorney asked to use a dog to calm a defense witness. (last visited August 23, 2015). Whether the use of dogs inside a courtroom will become a widely used or universal practice has yet to be determined, but the trend seems to be heading in that direction.

Contact us today if you have questions or believe your constitutional or criminal rights have been violated. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case. Act now and contact us today at (317) 857-0160.