[I]n a ruling in June that allowed Rosie to accompany the teenage rape victim to the trial here, a Dutchess County Court judge, Stephen L. Greller, said the teenager was traumatized and the defendant, Victor Tohom, appeared threatening. Although he said there was no precedent in the state, Judge Greller ruled that Rosie was similar to the teddy bear that a New York state appeals court said in 1994 could accompany a child witness.A dog is distinctly different from a teddy bear, isn't it?
At least once when the teenager hesitated in Judge Greller’s courtroom, Rosie rose and seemed to push the girl gently with her nose. Mr. Tohom was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life.
His public defenders, David S. Martin and Steven W. Levine, have raised a series of objections that they say seem likely to land the case in New York’s highest court. They argue that as a therapy dog, Rosie responds to people under stress by comforting them, whether the stress comes from confronting a guilty defendant or lying under oath.
But they say jurors are likely to conclude that the dog is helping victims expose the truth. “Every time she stroked the dog,” Mr. Martin said in an interview, “it sent an unconscious message to the jury that she was under stress because she was telling the truth.”
“There was no way for me to cross-examine the dog,” Mr. Martin said.
August 8, 2011