Update -Ken Henderson, Appeals court questions city ordinance in gator case


Appeals court questions city ordinance in gator case

An appellate judge on Thursday called a Columbia ordinance “mildly confusing” during the city of Columbia’s appeal of an earlier court ruling that determined the ordinance in question did not to apply in the case of a well-known alligator handler’s animals.

Robert Rinck, Columbia assistant city prosecutor, is appealing an August ruling by Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler that alligators do not fall within the parameters of “exotic animal” as defined in the city ordinance that alligator handler Ken Henderson was convicted of violating.

The Western District Court of Appeals yesterday held a hearing at the University of Missouri Law School. The panel of three judges heard arguments from Rinck about how the ordinance applies to Henderson in relation to a June 2011 incident when two of his alligators were found in the backyard of his daughter’s residence on Mikel Street.

Henderson claims his alligators are domesticated and not dangerous.

A municipal judge in December found Henderson, 67, of Kansas City guilty of two counts of possessing dangerous and exotic animals in relation to the incident. Henderson appealed the ruling to circuit court, where Oxenhandler found that the city ordinance Henderson was found to be in violation of did not apply to alligators.

The “dangerous exotic animals” ordinance at the time said that no person shall keep any dangerous exotic animal including any lion, tiger, leopard … any deadly, dangerous or venomous reptile or any other exotic animal.

Alligators, however, do not fall within the city’s definition of “exotic animal,” Oxenhandler wrote. The city code said “exotic animal includes the following” and listed numerous descriptions including “poisonous reptiles,” which alligators are not.

Rinck argued that the word “includes” is a legal term commonly used in the profession as meaning “not limited to” and therefore the ordinance would encompass alligators.

Appellate Judge Mark Pfeiffer of Columbia called the ordinance mildly confusing because the definition of “exotic animal” is not found in the ordinance in question and residents are unaware of the city’s interpretation of the word “includes.”

“It’s mildly confusing because of the descriptive list. I’m supposed to know that’s not everything?” Pfeiffer asked in relation to the word “includes.” “Isn’t that a little confusing?”

The code does not define “includes.”

The appellate judges also questioned Rinck and Henderson’s attorney, Kevin O’Brien, about their interpretations of Oxenhandler’s ruling. Rinck said Oxenhandler found the ordinance unconstitutional because it was too vague, while O’Brien described the ruling as a summary judgment because of his belief that the ordinance does not apply to alligators.

Just weeks after the June 2011 incident, the Columbia City Council amended the dangerous exotic animal ordinance to include in the definition “any other exotic animal declared by the director to be dangerous.” That means the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services has the authority to determine whether animals are dangerous or exotic or whether they fit the definition provided in the ordinance.

The appellate panel will rule at a later time.


Way to go Ken!!!

Disclaimer connected to this blog…Things said are of my opinion and the opinion of others…Stay tuned  Best -B


~ by topcatsroar on April 15, 2013.

One Response to “Update -Ken Henderson, Appeals court questions city ordinance in gator case”

  1. […] Previous blog posts of interest: https://topcatsroar.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/update-ken-henderson-appeals-court-questions-city-ordina… […]

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