Congo the Dog Beats Death Penalty Rap – State v. James

In an order entered in Superior Court earlier today, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office came to a settlement with the owners of Congo the Dog. Under the terms of the agreement, the previous death sentence that had been ordered for Congo in municipal court is to be vacated. This canine controversy followed a purported attack by Congo on a worker who was on his owner’s property. The worker was severely injured and later recovered a significant monetary settlement. Following the attack, the local municipality sought to have Congo declared a vicious and dangerous dog under the “Vicious and Dangerous Dog Act”, NJSA 4:19-22. Following trial in municipal court, the trial judge made a finding that the dog was dangerous, despite defense contentions that the dog was merely following its instinct in protecting its owner from a perceived threat. The judge then ordered the animal to be destroyed, as required under the statute. That portion of the judge’s sentence was stayed pending appeal to the Law Division.

Today’s order will end an emotional controversy that has already resulted in pending legislation to amend provisions of the Vicious and Dangerous Dog Act.

Download a copy of the order entered into in State v. James and an accompanying memorandum of law.

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