S.W.A.T. Team vs. Goat
Jessica Long’s nine-year old daughter participated in a 4-H project where she raised a goat and was supposed to take the goat to auction and sell it for slaughter. She raised the goat for months and brought the goat to the Shasta County District Fair and Event Center in Anderson, California, north of Sacramento, last year to sell him for slaughter at the Junior Livestock Auction held for young farmers.
As the auction began, she told her mom that she could not bear to lose the goat, named “Cedar,” and they packed up and took Cedar home. The Fair organizers wouldn’t have it, pointing to the Fair rules which prohibited withdrawal and fearing that allowing Cedar to live would set a bad example for other kids who have cold feet about selling their first animal for slaughter.
The Fair sold Cedar anyway and demanded that the Long family bring him back to face his fate. Long pleaded with the Fair officials, telling them that her daughter had bonded with Cedar like a family pet and offering to pay an monetary losses the bidder or the Fair incurred as a result of the last minute withdrawal of Cedar from the auction. The Fair refused, and turned to law enforcement in the days after the June auction, and filed felony grand-larceny charges against the Longs.
Meanwhile, the Longs stashed Cedar at a friend’s farm in Arizona to keep him safe. But the Shasta County Sheriff’s office got a warrant to seize the goat and return it to the Fair, found the goat and traveled hundreds of miles to seize it and turn it over to the Fair. Cedar was slaughtered as originally planned. Now, Long is suing the sheriff’s office, the Shasta District Fair and Event Center, and several employees with the organizations. In a 27-page complaint filed recently in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. She alleges they violated her and her daughter’s right to due process and their right against unreasonable search and seizure.
“This is a textbook case of government gone rogue,” said Vanessa Shakib, a lawyer with the nonprofit Advancing Law for Animals who is representing Long and her daughter. And it is hard to come up with an explanation of the government’s actions that makes any sense.
But I can go ahead and tell you that they will rely on the search warrant to protect them from liability. They will say that the facts were presented to a Judge who could have easily denied the search warrant. Instead, the Judge issued the search warrant and they cannot be liable for carrying out a valid search warrant.
The Longs’ lawyers seem to anticipate this too so the Longs claim that the curious case of Cedar the Goat should have never been turned over to law enforcement in the first place. The lawsuit claims that Cedar’s ownership/possession should have been a civil property dispute, not a criminal matter, and that the Fair unconstitutionally enlisted the power of law enforcement to obtain search warrants. Also, the search warrant instructed the officers to keep the goat until the criminal charges were resolved; instead, the officers turned the goat over to Fair officials who promptly turned him over for slaughter. The Longs say that their daughter is “absolutely heartbroken.” The Fair and law enforcement involved should be ashamed of themselves.
Speedo or Speedon’t
Roy Lester starting working weekends as a lifeguard at Jones Beach on Long Island, NYC in the summer of 1965. He never stopped. He and a group of other guys kept working and working well into their 50s and 60s. He is a bankruptcy attorney, but kept on working weekends as a lifeguard. Until he was asked to put on a speedo.
Every year, Jones Beach lifeguards must take a timed swimming test, and in 2007 New York state beach authorities decided that the lifeguards must wear one of the official lifeguard uniform options (swimming trunks or speedo) during the test. Roy wanted to wear “jammers,” the long boxer-brief-looking, tight-fitting trunks common on Olympic male swimmers. He thought the swimming trunks would slow him down too much (the timed test is tough) and the speedos revealed too much of his 60-year-old body.
New York would not bend the rules, Roy would not back down, and Roy was fired. So Roy filed a lawsuit in 2008 claiming that the speedo requirement amounted to age discrimination because speedos are not intended for old people. The case dragged on for years, and Roy took a lifeguarding job at a private club in Atlantic Beach while he waited for his day in court.
In 2014, the first-level Court dismissed the lawsuit, but Roy appealed and a higher court reversed the dismissal, putting the case back in court. In 2021, after 14 years of litigation, the State finally backed down and allowed Roy to wear his jammers during the timed swimming test. He worked this summer, just like he did as a teenager in 1965. On his first day, he wore speedos – over his regular swimming trunks.
Mitchell Driskell practices law with the Tannehill & Carmean firm (voted Oxford’s Best Law Firm every year since 2010) and has been an Oxford lawyer for twenty two years. You can call him at 662.236.9996 and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He practices criminal law, civil law and family law.