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Justices reject appeal in ‘Ponce's Law' case

Case helped lead massage of measure to crack down on animal abuse

(Photo via Change.org)
(Photo via Change.org)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Supreme Court has declined to take up an appeal in a Volusia County case that helped lead to passage of a state law about animal abuse.

Justices, in a 4-1 decision, rejected a request by defendant Travis Archer to rule on a dispute about whether evidence should be blocked from the case. As is common, the Supreme Court did not explain its reasoning. But justices Alan Lawson, Barbara Lagoa, Robert Luck and Carlos Muniz were in the majority, while Justice Jorge Labarga supported taking up the case. Such decisions are typically made by five of the seven justices.

Archer was arrested in April 2017 after police received a call about possible animal abuse at his home. After first going to the front door of the home and then following Archer to a rear yard, an officer saw a dead dog, a ruling last year by the 5th District Court of Appeal said.

Archer was placed in a patrol car, and officers re-entered his home and yard and took pictures of the crime scene and secured the dog’s body.

A circuit judge ruled that officers were not justified in searching the home and yard without a warrant after determining the dog was dead.

The judge found that the “exigency” of the situation was over, the appeals court said.

The judge suppressed evidence including photographs, police bodycam footage and the dog’s remains. But a three-judge panel of the appeals court overruled that decision and allowed the evidence, prompting Archer to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The case helped lead during the 2018 legislative session to passage of a measure -- known as “Ponce’s Law” -- that toughened animal-abuse laws.