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Claude Kicklighter is a Georgia attorney with no particular expertise in representing animal cases. Yet the lawyer has been appointed to represent a pit bull facing the death sentence (euthanasia) for mauling a five-year-old boy.
Georgia judge William Woodrum said he was appointing Kicklighter to the case "in the interest of justice," reports the ABA Journal.
It doesn't appear that Kicklighter requested the appointment, nor does it appear that Kicklighter specializes in animal law matters. When asked about the case, Kicklighter just said: "All I can tell you is that the judge appointed me. I really don't know what the issues are," reports the ABA Journal.
The truth is not that many lawyers may know what the issues are involved in the dog biting defense case. It's rare that a lawyer is appointed to represent an animal. In fact, one lawyer who specializes in animal cases, says that he is only aware of two other cases where a judge appointed a lawyer to represent an animal. One involved dogs owned by NFL quarterback Michael Vick, reports the ABA Journal.
Kicklighter may find himself in a position where he has to analogize human cases to the defense of the dog.
While Kicklighter may not have requested the case, he probably put himself on a pro bono list where he offered his services to those needing assistance, including apparently dogs.
Offering pro bono services is a great way to serve the community. And many young attorneys may put themselves on such lists as a way to gain exposure and experience. However, a risk of these services is that an attorney may find himself handling a case in which he has no experience.
Given the dearth of cases involving dog defense, getting appointed to this case may be a blessing in disguise for Claude Kicklighter. When all is said and done, he may find himself the national expert on representing dogs gaining both exposure and experience from the case.