91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State Supreme Court to decide on support dogs for witnesses

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Prosecutors in Michigan say adult witnesses should be able to use emotional support dogs in courts.

Prosecutors in Ingham County have filed an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeals said allowing an able-bodied adult to testify with a dog would be an unprecedented change. They said it could only happen through legislation, court rule, or a decision from the Supreme Court.

So prosecutors are trying to get Michigan’s highest court to rule.

They say support dogs are an unobtrusive way to get a witness to open up and reveal the truth in court.

Michael Sepic is the Berrien County Prosecutor. Their office has had support dog, Mr. Weeber, since 2014.

“The worst thing that happens, and Mr. Weeber does it occasionally, he’ll start snoring,” Sepic said. “There’s nothing about the dog that can twist and turn facts and encourage them to say, you know, things that are embellished or things like that. The dog is just sitting there.”

Opponents of support dogs say they could sway the jury to find the witness more credible because they have a dog with them.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
Related Content