Video Message from Prof. Taimie Bryant about Law 938 A/B
Dogs in the United States frequently die just because someone accused them of being “dangerous.” Some accusations are legitimate, but many are not. An accuser can be a disgruntled neighbor or someone who provoked the dog, for instance. All that stands between accused dogs and death is a hearing officer charged with taking in evidence, writing reports, and making recommendations to a government official. Often those hearing officers rose through the ranks of animal control, bringing forward a bias in favor of killing these dogs. Students taking this course have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of these dogs and the people who care about them. Many families are devastated by the destruction of loved, gentle pets who bit only one time under unusual circumstances.
During this four-unit course, spanning J-Term and the Spring semester, students will be trained to make fair assessments of the evidence in such cases, which is vitally important to properly determine which dogs pose a threat to public safety and which do not. The General Manager of Los Angeles Animal Services (“LAAS”) will then appoint students to conduct these quasi-judicial dangerous dog complaint hearings. Students will also conduct barking dog complaint hearings. In addition to providing valuable public service, the course allows students to develop practical legal skills and to learn experientially about substantive law pertaining to administrative agencies, administrative hearings, evidence, and animal regulation.
The J-Term part of the course focuses on preparation to conduct hearings. Students will attend LAAS hearings and appeals and engage in simulated hearings with attorneys who have represented dog owners in dangerous dog proceedings. They will meet with different participants in the process (including complainants, LAAS hearing officers, former and current LAAS commissioners, and the LAAS General Manager). The J-Term part of the course is intense because there are so many scheduled training components. Students will be unable to work or to take another J-Term course. However, reading and writing assignments will be limited to those necessary for developing the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct hearings.
During the Spring semester, pairs of students will conduct two LAAS hearings on Friday every other week (seven hearing days). One will take place in the morning, and one will take place in the early afternoon. Due to this schedule of alternating Fridays at LAAS, students will not be able to take any other course that meets on Fridays. After the two hearings on each Friday, each student will take responsibility for one report, which will include recommended actions to be taken by the General Manager of LAAS. During the Spring semester, students will also meet for class at UCLA Law for a total of six times during the semester for two hours each meeting. In addition to considering possible Los Angeles Municipal Code revisions, students will participate in designing an ongoing opportunity for UCLA Law students to serve as LAAS hearing officers.
Class attendance and participation are mandatory because of the importance of training for and then collaboratively conducting scheduled hearings in downtown Los Angeles. This 4-unit course begins with J-Term and extends through the Spring semester. Students must take both the J-Term and the Spring semester parts of the course. Students will receive one letter grade for all four units of credit at the end of the Spring semester. The grade will be based on successful completion of all the requirements, including class and hearing attendance and participation. There are no course prerequisites for this class, but there is a required application procedure and work agreement. Enrollment is limited to eight students. Since this course involves live client work for which there is a lot of detailed planning and collaborative work, the Drop Deadline for this course is December 22, 2017. Students may not drop the class after that date