Law blog roundup

Quentin TarantinoWelcome to the first Monday after the most improbable of victories. Can you believe that Quentin Tarantino won for Best Screenplay?

Here are some news items to get your week started.

– What happens if you lie on a gun-permit application?

– Sri Lanka’s president fires the chief justice.

– A lawyer was attacked by his client in a D.C. courtroom.

– Cellphones will be permitted in Chicago courthouses — for now.

– Federal judge sets ground rules for horse roundup in Nevada.

Law blog roundup

Welcome to the first Monday after the Kentucky Derby.

For those of you who bet on Animal Kingdom (at 20-1), I hope you are enjoying your day off.

For those of you who did not, I hope you find the following law links more valuable than your parimutuel ticket.

  • Oh (my), Canada: Court to the north looks disapprovingly at U.S. anti-terrorism effort.
  • By, George: Late Yankees owner blamed lawyers for his illegal campaign contribution.
  • Settling in New England: Connecticut hospital settles molestation claims by 32 people who say they participated in a doctor’s “human growth study.”

Animal cruelty sentencing postponed

The sentencing of a Baltimore County lawyer and his wife on animal cruelty charges, set for Tuesday, has been postponed.

Hilton and Donna Silver were found guilty in April in circuit court of neglecting one of their horses, which was in such poor condition it had to be euthanized on the spot. The Silvers face a maximum of 90 days in jail. The April trial was an appeal of a guilty verdict the couple received in district court last August.

A new sentencing date has not been scheduled.

A call to Hilton Silver’s lawyer Tuesday afternoon was not returned. Court records indicate David A. Greenbaum filed a motion for a new trial in May. Prosecutor Adam Lippe said in an e-mail he did not ask for the postponement.

One reason for the delay might be that the judge, Thomas J. Bollinger, is in the midst of the Mary Koontz murder trial. I’ve seen judges delay the day’s testimony in a civil matter to handle a criminal issue, but I would imagine it’s a little more difficult to interrupt a murder trial for a hearing that could take a few hours.

Animal cruelty appeal postponed

A Baltimore County husband and wife convicted on animal cruelty charges earlier this year will have their appeal heard next month after a judge agreed to postpone Thursday’s scheduled hearing.

Both Hilton and Donna Silver were unaccompanied by lawyers Thursday in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Hilton Silver, a lawyer himself, said counsel who had agreed to represent him was at another trial; Donna Silver had a letter from the public defender’s office indicating she applied for assistance within 10 days of the hearing, meaning no one could represent her.

Hilton Silver also indicated he had two character witnesses – a prosecutor and a retired judge – who were unavailable Thursday.

Prosecutor Adam Lippe, who had at least four witnesses in court and three on standby, objected to the postponement. Judge Robert E. Cahill Jr., however, agreed to the Silvers’ request and moved the hearing to Jan. 25 but said no further postponements would be allowed.

The Silvers were each sentenced in August to three consecutive weekends in jail and ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution for the death of one horse and neglect of two others at their Windsor Mill home. Lippe said following the hearing that the couple has served their jail time but the fine has not been paid, including $230 owed to a vet for euthanizing one horse at the home.

The delay in the appeals means the two surviving horses remain under the care of the county, which has spent $20,000 so far, Lippe said. The horses have fully recovered at Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine but cannot be sold until the legal issues in the case have been resolved.

Donna Silver has forfeited ownership of the horses, but Hilton Silver has maintained the horses aren’t his, Lippe said in court.

Appeal in animal cruelty case set

The husband and wife who pleaded guilty earlier this year to animal cruelty charges will have their appeal from state District Court heard next week in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Hilton Silver’s request to postpone the trial was denied Tuesday, according to prosecutor Adam Lippe. The trial is scheduled for Dec. 17.

Hilton and Donna Silver were each sentenced in August to three consecutive weekends in jail and ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution for the death of one horse and neglect of two others at their Windsor Mill home. They filed their appeals a month later.

The surviving horses have been recovering at Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine since they were removed from the Silvers’ home. In August, Lippe said the county had spent approximately $10,000 caring for the horses so far.

Couple appeals animal cruelty conviction

The husband and wife who pleaded guilty last month to animal cruelty charges in the death of one horse and neglect of two others at their Windsor Mill home have filed appeals of their convictions, according to court records and the prosecutor in the case.

Hilton and Donna Silver were each sentenced in Baltimore County District Court to three consecutive weekends in jail and ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution. No trial dates have been set, but Assistant State’s Attorney Adam Lippe said he would try to keep the Silvers together as in district court proceedings.

The appeals also complicate the future of the two surviving horses, which have recovered and are ready for adoption, Lippe said. While Donna Silver has signed a waiver relinquishing ownership of the horses, Hilton Silver, a Baltimore County lawyer, has not, Lippe said. So the horses cannot be moved until the legal issues in the case have been resolved.

Until then, the horses will remain at Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, where they have lived since April. During last month’s hearing, Lippe said the county has spent at least $10,000 caring for the horses.

Neglected horses galloping toward recovery

The surviving horses that were taken from Hilton and Donna Silver are well on their way to recovery,  a Baltimore County animal control official said Wednesday.

“They are doing phenomenal,” said Brooke Birman-Vrany, assistant director at Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, which has housed the horses since April.

Birman-Vrany’s testimony was blocked by the judge after the Silvers pleaded guilty Tuesday to neglecting their stable of three. District Court Judge Robert J. Steinberg ruled that she would essentially be giving a victim impact statement on behalf of the horses, one of whom had to be euthanized.

Reached Wednesday, Birman-Vrany said the two surviving Arabians are exiting the “critical care stage” of their training program, with physical rehab that includes round-the-clock care and a strict feeding plan. They are now entering the “maintenance” stage of the program to re-learn how to handle a rider and generally be a horse for a new owner.

Birman-Vrany estimated the horses would be adopted by this time next year, based on the average horse’s stay at Days End Farm Horse Rescue.

The nonprofit organization currently cares for nearly 60 horses, almost all taken in through animal control offices around Maryland. The organization also in some cases takes in horses private owners can no longer care for, which is a growing problem in the current economy; Birman-Vrany said her office receives three calls a day from private owners.

“We’ve had a real increase in horse issues,” she said.

Birman-Vrany praised the work of Baltimore County prosecutors and animal control officers in the Silvers’ case, saying it has a set a precedent for horse neglect cases.

“I was very grateful for everyone who stood up for these horses’ welfare,” she said.

Note: Photo at top left is file art.

A legal game of H-O-R-S-E

H. Mercedes Clemens, a certified personal massage therapist in Rockville, expected to be back at her side business of massaging horses by now.

But her efforts to end a cease-and-desist order from the Maryland Board of Chiropractic and Massage Therapy Examiners remain in legal limbo. While pre-trial hearings were scheduled to resume tomorrow in Montgomery County Circuit Court, they have been postponed — a third time — for at least a month, according to her attorney Paul Sherman.

When Clemens and the board last met in court, May 5, Judge David A. Boynton wondered aloud whether the agency, which certifies massage therapists, has the authority to regulate the massaging of horses.

Boynton postponed further hearings on the issue for a month to allow the board to reconsider its position at a May 14 meeting. The board didn’t back down, and Clemens has no intention of doing so.

Scheduling conflicts caused the June 2 hearing to be postponed until June 17. Today, that hearing was postponed as well.

Stay tuned.