Gracia Hearing Day 2

Guest Post by Daniel Sigmon of Hearing Notes for Day 2 of the Gracia Hearing (the Judge arrived at 10:23 AM):

OK Folks, here we go. What a day. I felt like I was watching Perry Mason or

I arrived just a little late at around 10:30 to the courtroom (life happens).
The SPCA "Investigator" [Debbie Michielson] was on the stand for the prosecution.

The testimony was agonizingly specific and long. A review of photos and a
rundown of the SPCA "timeline" of events.

The SPCA originally claimed that they thought the property was abandoned. (The
Gracia property contains two houses with two addresses. One was empty the other
was occupied.)

They repeatedly stressed that they went through no gates, or locked doors. The
property was "Open for parusal.'' They saw some animals a dead bird or two and
left a notice on the empty house. After no one responded to their Notice by the
next morning around 8:00 AM they organized a seizure of the animals. Warrants
were issued from the constable and the operation was accomplished.

That is a summary of about 3 hours of testimony.

The defense then cross-examined. He was marvelous. The prosecution presented
their case with an air of moral superiority. The defense lawyer was not phased
at all.

In the interests of brevity, I'm going to list the highlights of what the
defense uncovered.

The SPCA claimed to have checked the property to see if it was abandoned and
supposedly checked the electric meter and they said it wasn't moving, thus
indicating abandonment. The defenence first asked her if that meant abandonment
or that nothing was turned on. Response, "It can be". He then showed her one
of her own pictures taken that day that showed a light on in the space in the
"abandoned" property, where the birds were. Hem and Haw from the stand.

He then asked about another picture, of a bird in a cage with rust that was
taken at the seizure. He asked if that constituted cruelty. She said yes.
Then he asked her if she remembered that the Vet had been shown that picture and
said that the cage was reasonably ok. She didn't recall. (Much was made over
the course of the proceedings to establish how the cruelty judgement was made
and what the standards were. Vet advice was sighted as a primary source and he
turned it back on them.) After the picture was given back into evidence, he
introduced his own and asked the investigator what she saw "A bird in a cage
with rust." "Is this cruel," he asked. She responded, "Yes." He then revealed
that this was a cage at the SPCA.

He did much the same thing with the dogs. He showed a cage with overturned
water and no food. Cruel? Yes. He then revealed that the picture was taken at
the SPCA.

He asked how many dead birds were found on the property. Investigator admitted
to around 3-5. He then asked how many birds had died since being brought into
custody at the SPCA. She said she didn't know. He then revealed that so far it
was over 20.

He spent a lot of time asking about her training and how much she new about
birds. She didn't know about breeding birds or their behaviors, some of which
can be responsible for the appearance of some of the birds.

He also took on the fact that they left a lot of animals there. After about 40
minutes of grilling he finally got her to admit that it is unusual if not ever
the case that they would leave any animals in the possession of someone who was
"Cruel" to animals, thus weakening their accusations against the Gracias.

He made mention that even though signs were not posted, it is illegal to go on
property in texas without the express permission of the owner. He also asked
about what they wear. If they were law enforcement, could they arrest. why
they wore those uniforms.

The coup de gras came in the last hour of testimony, when the defense played
SPCA's own video of the seizure. One of the pics they offered as evidence of
cruelty was of a dead bird in a water bowl. The vet testified that this was
unsanitary and an indication of cruelty. In the video for ALL TO SEE, the
person with the camera picked up the dead bird in the cage and PUT IT IN THE

Caught staging evidence. Totally perry mason. I almost heard the music in
background as we went to commercial.

As the cross dragged on over the course of the afternoon the prosecution got
gradually more fidgety and worried looking. After the video was played on the
prosecutions re-cross NOTHING was ever said about the video. They looked like
the steam had left them a little.

I don't know if that means we are still doing well, but that is a short choppy
recap of the highlights.



My thanks to Danny for permission to post these notes!

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