Archive for January 10th, 2017

January 10, 2017

Animal Trial

lavegny sow

In legal history, an animal trial was the criminal trial of a non-human animal. Such trials are recorded as having taken place in Europe from the thirteenth century until the eighteenth. In modern times, it is considered in most criminal justice systems that non-human creatures lack moral agency and so cannot be held culpable for an act.

Animals, including insects, faced the possibility of criminal charges for several centuries across many parts of Europe. According to a 1624 treatise by Johannis Gross, in 1474 a rooster was put on trial for ‘the heinous and unnatural crime of laying an egg,’ which the townspeople were concerned was spawned by Satan and contained a cockatrice (a mythical beast).