Friday, January 20, 2006

Louisiana State High Court Upholds Law Against Cockfighting In One Parish.

One down, quite a few more to go. It’s hard to believe there’s cockfighting clubs. What do they sit around and make comments to each other like – “wow, not that’s a nice cock.” “That cock sure can fight.” “I wish my cock could fight like that.” Seems strange for a bunch of grown men and women to be talking like that.

State high court upholds law against cockfighting


January 20, 2006

From Staff and Wire reports

Fowls will fight in Caddo Parish no more the state's highest court ruled Thursday.

Since Louisiana law has nothing to say about cockfighting, Caddo Parish is free to ban it, the state Supreme Court said.

The decision overturned a district court order which kept Sheriff Steve Prator from enforcing the parish animal cruelty ordinance, which states fowl are animals and makes it illegal to cause or allow fights between animals.

Though Louisiana has no law for or against cockfights, its animal cruelty law states that -- except for the two orders of birds that include parrots and canaries -- fowl are not animals.

The Caddo Parish ordinance is unconstitutional because it contradicts that statement, two cockfighting clubs contended.

But the high court ruled that, since the Legislature has never passed any law authorizing, forbidding or regulating cockfighting, parishes are free to do what they want about it.

"The legislature simply chose not to define fowl as animals in the provision criminalizing cruelty to animals," said the opinion by Justice Bernette Johnson.

The parish ban was passed in 1987, but Prator said it had never been enforced until numerous complaints about illegal activity at cockfights at the Piney Woods Game Club and the Ark-La-Tex Game Club Inc. prompted him to look into parish laws.

Then, he said, "I told my vice unit to shut them down."

Neither Claddie Savage, who runs Piney Woods, nor Ark-La-Tex president Allen Nix could be found; their attorney, Charles Salley, could not be reached Thursday night. It is unclear whether there is another avenue of appeal for the clubs.

The Humane Society of the United States was delighted with the ruling.

"The cockfighters' efforts to protect their cruel pastime through the judicial system have been met with a resounding rebuke," said Jonathan R. Rovvorn, the society's vice president of animal protection litigation.

He said it appears that the cockfighting clubs, which won a preliminary pretrial order against enforcing the law, could demand a trial. But, he said, the ruling makes it clear that the ordinance is constitutional.

"There's still an order to be filed by the trial court but we think it's largely a procedural matter," he said.

Prator said he will be in touch with the clubs to tell them that he will enforce the ordinance immediately. "They have always cooperated. When we shut them down before, there were no arrests." But if they persist in engaging in cockfighting, "they will be arrested," the sheriff said.

"I don't really have a cock in this fight," he added. "We weren't trying to say whether cockfighting was right or wrong. We were just trying to enforce the law."

He said the two Caddo Parish clubs are the only ones he knows of in north Louisiana.

"In south Louisiana, it's pretty much culture," he said.

New Mexico is the only other state in the nation where cockfighting is legal.

Times' staffer Francis McCabe and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

©The Times

January 20, 2006

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