Judge Says Federal Animal Crush Video Law Violates Freedom of Speech Rights


Animal rights officials are outraged over a judge’s decision to drop some federal counts against a Houston couple who allegedly videotaped the torture of several pets in 2010, reports the Houston Chronicle. The case is the first under the federal Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake cited First Amendment concerns in dismissing five federal counts against Ashley Nicole Richards, 22, and Brent Justice, 51, accusing them of creating and distributing “animal crush videos.” The couple still faces two federal counts. Lake ruled that a section of the law “abridges (diminishes) the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” The law prohibits photographing or videotaping “in which 1 or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious body injury.” Richards and Justice were accused of using meat cleavers and other knives to torture puppies, chickens, and kittens, and videotaping the alleged abuse for sale on the Internet in so-called crush videos.

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