© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Appeals Court: Adults Can’t Bring Support Animals When Testifying

Reginald Hardwick

An adult testifying in court in a criminal case cannot bring an emotional support animal to the stand.  

As we hear from Capitol Bureau Chief Rick Pluta, the Michigan Court of Appeals made that ruling in a decision released Friday.   

A woman filed a rape complaint against a male acquaintance who disputed her version of events. When the trial came, a judge allowed a support dog and a handler holding a leash to be with her when she testified. That was over the objection of the defense. While courts have allowed support animals to accompany children and adults with developmental disabilities to the stand, there was no recorded instance of allowing that anywhere in the country in cases where a competent adult testified.  

In a split decision, the appeals court said allowing the support dog on the stand with an adult called into question whether the jury reached an unbiased decision.   

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!