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Appeals court: Adults can’t bring support animals when testifying

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Competent adults cannot bring emotional support animals to testify in court.

A woman accused a male acquaintance of rape. He said there was no assault.

The women was distraught and the prosecutor said a support dog might help her remain calm while she testified. The defense objected, but the judge allowed it.

The appeals court says that was a mistake. The majority opinion said support animals are OK when children or people with developmental disabilities are called to testify. But, the judges ruled, the practice should be limited because it could bias the jury – especially in cases that turn on the credibility of witnesses.

The dissenting judge agreed it was an error, but said it would not have changed the outcome.

Rick Pluta is the Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is heard daily on WCMU's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.