Florida Senate - 2022 SB 172 By Senator Pizzo 38-00361-22 2022172__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to courtroom animal advocates; 3 creating s. 828.035, F.S.; providing for appointment 4 of an advocate for the interests of an animal in 5 certain court proceedings, at the discretion of the 6 court; providing powers and duties of such advocates; 7 requiring the Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar to 8 maintain a list of attorneys and certified legal 9 interns meeting specified requirements who are 10 eligible to be appointed as such advocates; specifying 11 that certain rules of The Florida Bar govern such 12 advocates; providing an effective date. 13 14 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 15 16 Section 1. Section 828.035, Florida Statutes, is created to 17 read: 18 828.035 Courtroom animal advocates.— 19 (1) In any prosecution or other court proceeding under this 20 chapter, s. 413.081, or s. 843.19 or in any other civil or 21 criminal proceeding regarding the welfare, care, or custody of 22 an animal, the court may appoint, upon its own initiative or 23 upon request of a party, an advocate to represent the interests 24 of the animal, whether living or dead. 25 (2) When a court orders that an advocate be appointed to 26 represent the interests of an animal, the court may appoint such 27 advocate from a list provided to the court by the Animal Law 28 Section of The Florida Bar of designated attorneys and certified 29 legal interns, pursuant to subsection (4). The court has 30 discretion to appoint or remove the advocate. The decision by a 31 court to appoint an advocate to represent the interests of the 32 animal may be made at any stage of the proceedings. 33 (3)(a) An advocate shall: 34 1. Monitor the case. 35 2. Have access to relevant files, documents, and reports 36 related to the case. 37 3. Share with attorneys for the parties any information new 38 to the case or prepared by the advocate for presentation to the 39 court or a party. 40 4. Present information and recommendations to the court 41 pertinent to determinations that relate to the interests of the 42 animal in question, provided such information and 43 recommendations result from executing the duties undertaken 44 pursuant to this paragraph. Such information and recommendations 45 may be based upon the knowledge and experience of the advocate 46 or another specialist with specific knowledge and experience 47 related to the type of animal involved in the case. 48 (b) An advocate may: 49 1. Consult any individual with information that could aid 50 the judge or fact finder. 51 2. Review records relating to the animal’s condition and 52 the defendant’s actions, including, but not limited to, records 53 from animal control officers, veterinarians, and police 54 officers. 55 3. Attend hearings in person or via other means. 56 4. Provide a victim impact statement to the court, as 57 needed and appropriate. 58 (4)(a) The Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar shall 59 maintain a list of attorneys and certified legal interns who 60 have indicated a willingness to serve as advocates under this 61 section on a voluntary basis and who are eligible to do so. 62 (b) In order to be eligible to serve as an advocate, 63 attorneys and certified legal interns must: 64 1. Be authorized to make court appearances in Florida; and 65 2. Have completed training as required by the Animal Law 66 Section of The Florida Bar. 67 (c) The Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar may establish 68 training requirements for persons to serve as advocates. The 69 rules of professional conduct govern attorneys and certified 70 legal interns operating as advocates under this section. 71 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2022.