Service Dog in Jury Box for Deputy-Involved Dog Killing Case

"This is the first time we've had a dog in the jury box," judge says

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    Getty Images file photo
    Jurors had a dog laying quietly beside them and keeping them company Tuesday in Palm Beach County circuit court on Tuesday. In this 2009 file photo, a service dog is seen accompanying a military veteran in California.

    With testimony under way in a deputy-involved dog killing, jurors had a dog laying quietly beside them and keeping them company Tuesday in Palm Beach County circuit court.

    "This is the first time we've had a dog in the jury box," Judge David Crow said, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

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    The service dog was there because the dog’s trainer was serving as a juror in Tuesday’s animal-rights civil trial. The dog’s trainer told attorneys and the judge she would be fair and impartial in weighing the dispute.

    Plaintiff Russ Greenberg, 48, alleges his beloved Petey, an American Staffordshire Terrier, was a fun-loving companion who was killed for no good reason by Palm Beach sheriff’s deputies last year, the newspaper reported. 

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    “He bled to death,” Greenberg testified. “He was shot with multiple bullet holes in him.”

    But William Cornwell, attorney for the Sheriff's Office, said deputies acted in self-defense when they killed an aggressive pit bull that had just bitten a 12-year-old girl and threatened a mail carrier. 

    “"The dog was loose and continuing to threaten people in the neighborhood,” Cornwell said. “No one was happy the dog was killed.”

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    Greenberg wants the jury to award damages beyond the cost of replacing his pet. But the judge told him Florida law restricts the value of the dog as an item of personal property, not a greater sentimental value.

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