Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Former Lawyer Charged w/ Animal Cruelty Counter-Sues Prosecutor

This is one of the horses confiscated from the Trexler Farm

Civil Lawsuits Filed Against Horse Abuse Case Prosecutors
by: Pat Raia

February 02 2009, Article # 13558

Two members of the Trexler family have filed civil lawsuits in South Carolina Federal and State courts alleging that animal cruelty charges filed against them in a longstanding criminal case were brought unjustly. The lawsuits seek in excess of $300 million in damages, legal fees, and restitution from prosecutors, defense attorneys, veterinarians, and animal welfare agencies connected with the criminal case.

Terry Trexler, a former lawyer, and his mother Hazelene Trexler, are named as plaintiffs in all three civil complaints filed on Jan. 21. They are representing themselves in the lawsuits. Brother James Trexler, who also faces animal cruelty charges, is not named as a plaintiff in the civil complaints.

None of the family members were available for comment.

In 2008, Hazelene, Terry, and James Trexler were each charged with multiple counts of felony ill-treatment of animals after Richland County Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (HSPCA) investigators removed 45 allegedly severely malnourished and neglected horses from various properties owned or leased by the family.

One of the horses at time of seizure.
In the nearly 12 months since the seizure, two horses died--one from complications due to low bodyweight, another from a ruptured intestine--and four foals were born. The 47 horses all remain under HSPCA jurisdiction under the care of veterinarian Mike Privett, DVM. They reside in foster homes and at facilities owned by Privett. HSPCA spokesperson Kelly Graham said the agency has spent $85,000 caring for the herd to date.
The complaints allege that HSPCA unlawfully seized the animals, and Richland County Solicitor W. Barney Giese and Assistant Solicitor Jill Andrews violated the Trexlers' civil rights by prosecuting the case. Terry Trexler's former defense attorney Aaron Jophlin, and Hazelene Trexler's former attorney Hans Pauling, are also named in the complaints.

Pauling was unavailable for comment. Jophlin declined to comment.

The petitions also allege that Privett and his associate Lari Stokes, DVM, have abused the horses in their care because 27 of the horses are residing "in overcrowded conditions" on 15 acres belonging to Equicare Veterinary Services.

"All I can say is that I know were named in the complaints," Privett said Jan. 23.

Graham declined to comment on the lawsuits.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) spokesperson Emily Brand also declined comment on behalf of Melinda D. Merck, DVM, ASPCA senior director of veterinary forensics, who is named in two of the complaints. Merck performed forensic studies on equine bones exhumed from Trexler properties.

The lawsuits are the latest legal twist connected with the criminal case that has been subject to several delays, most recently an unsuccessful bid by James Trexler's attorney Neil Lourie to win a change of venue for the criminal proceedings. Lourie was unavailable for comment.

Through a spokesperson, Richland County Prosecutor W. Barney Giese said he "plans to vigorously prosecute" the criminal case against the Trexlers.


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