828 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2020
There was also evidence that the rooster was in severe distress. It is common
knowledge that pets often pick up the mood of their owners. It is a very
stressful experience for applicants to assert their civil rights and participate
in a legal proceeding to challenge a detention order. It can be a humiliating
experience to be detained under the Act. There is agony involved in hearing
a psychiatrist describe what is characterized, at best, as your “anti-social” or
“inappropriate” behaviour or, at worst, as your “violent” or “criminal” behaviour.
The sense of being a social outcast is akin to torture.
My quick assessment of the situation was that the rooster had sensed his
owner/friend’s torment and was sharing in the painful experience, vocalizing
their shared feelings. The rooster was shrieking what the applicant, due
to social constraints, could not yell himself: “Habeas corpus! Set me free! I
hate this experience! Set me free!” It is also possible that the rooster was irritated
by being cooped up in a small space, which was a garden shed on the
applicant’s hobby farm.
There were four reasons underlying my ruling to allow the rooster to stay
as an observer/participant in the teleconference hearing. First, the rooster
was akin to a “therapy rooster”, a supportive friend whose presence calmed
the applicant, enabling him to endure the legal proceedings. The rooster’s
presence, albeit nonplussing at times, was important to ensure a smooth
(sort of), efficient hearing.
Second, the applicant had consented to the presence of the rooster, and
no other party objected to the rooster’s presence. Accordingly, there were
no privacy issues involved in the rooster’s participation.
Third, my statutory jurisdiction was to decide the applicant’s habeas corpus
application. I had no jurisdiction under the Act (or in any other statute
applicable to the proceeding) to decide what appeared to be a habeas corpus
application by the rooster, too. The rooster’s submissions were unclear; he
was unable to persuade me that the Board had legal authority to assist him
in his plea to be freed from detention.
Fourth, the applicant had retained legal counsel, a human, who was
assisting him at the hearing.
My ruling, in effect, was that the rooster could stay as an amicus litigant,
but not as a party in his own right, nor as a second legal advocate for the
The ruling was likely correct, I think, because it seemed to soothe ruffled
feathers, and the bird was much quieter thenceforth.
You will understand why I do not want to be a “real judge”, wearing black
robes and sitting on a dais. Absolutely no decision-making experience can
compare to the “walk on the wild side” encounters that come with the role
of a Board decision maker under the Act.