Two University of California, Berkeley, law students have been accuse of a disgusting crime in which they tore the head off a 14-year-old Helmeted guinea fowl in the Flamingo’s wildlife habitat and then laughed about it. Security cameras reportedly caught Eric Cuellar, 24, and Justin Teixeir, 24, chasing the bird into the trees and then carrying out its body and severed head as some type of hilarious joke.
While witnesses said that the two Berkeley law students were laughing and talkative while chasing and killing the bird, they refused to talk to police once they arrived at the scene. They both face felony charges of conspiracy and willful, malicious torture/killing of wildlife.
As a law professor, I am frankly appalled by the story. These students obviously worked hard to make it into a premier law school and have now thrown away their careers in a spasm of alleged senseless and inhuman violence. We have previously discussed these cases of cruelty to animals and how sentences tend to be relatively low when the victims are animals. However, people who would do such things to animals in my view represent obvious threats to society. It shows a callous disregard for the suffering of a living thing — even an element of enjoyment from the suffering or killing of an innocent creature.
The students should be given the opportunity to defend themselves before the law school takes any action to expel them. However, if they plead guilty or are convicted of these crimes, they obviously will be expelled and it will be difficult for them to become members of the bar if they find entry into law schools after serving any sentence. I have always favored an element of forgiveness for some students who come to law school with criminal records after showing rehabilitation and remorse. I have seen extraordinary people emerge from troubled lives. What is different in this case is that these students committed the alleged crimes after attained tremendous success in their lives. They may still be able to show such rehabilitation but they will meet with lingering skepticism and understandable anger if they are found guilty of this heinous crime.
The only likely defense would be the claim that they were intoxicated — a common problem in Vegas. While I am still concerned that alcohol would unleash a desire to torture an animal, they could claim that they were drunk and just chasing the bird. The beheading could be claimed as a result of their effort to grab the resisting bird. At least such an account (if accepted) would refute the suggested that they wanted to torture or kill the bird.
The defense could be critical not only in terms of a conviction but readmission to law school. The problem with an eventual reentry of the men into a law school is the underlying cruelty reflected in the crime. We cannot make lawyers better people in law school. We cannot make them sympathetic to the suffering of others. All of that is determined before they sit in our classes. However, we can keep out of the profession those people who have taken sadistic pleasure from the suffering of animals or people.
What do you think? Should these men be able to return to law school after serving time for such a crime if convicted?
41 thoughts on “Fowl Crime: Two Berkeley Law Students Arrested For Allegedly Beheading Bird In Vegas Casino As Joke”
Also, evidently according to the police report, there was three people involved, though only two were positively identified.
What would cause three people to do something so stupid and so cruel? Especially since these guys are not kids–they’re 23-24. That’s old enough to know better.
Whatever exists in their mental makeup, it’s not what we would expect from the legal profession.
What I found especially disturbing is comments at web sites associated with the law school, treating what these two men did as a joke.
Perhaps law schools need to take a closer look at exactly what they’re teaching future lawyers.
I feel so sorry for the bird; what a terrible way to die. Most people have empathy for living creatures. Granted, the creature is a bird, not a human, but lawmakers in New York State now recognize that people who are cruel to animals often progress to cruelty to humans and so they passed very tough laws, with stiff penaties including significant jail time, for animal cruelty.
I understand your points, target rich environment might be a concern, I believe humiliation was the goal of the judge in the petting zoo case.
There are sometimes cases that push the buttons of prosecutors, judges, the public, etc and vengence is often a result. They often involve kind of sacred cow cases that do not happen very often but when they do, emotions take hold and suspects probably should run for the hills. When this happens, offering a defense of being drunk or stoned is sometimes a bad defense for a person to muster because it causes even more emotional response.
Probably good that I am not a Superior Court Judge either. My prison overfloweth.
one of these guys on his own is bad enough but the two of them together is really scary. from my personal experience with lawyers, they fit the profile.
They’ve been slacking, raff.
Only 27 Nobel laureates at Berkeley? 🙂
Darren Smith: “but I believe the judge also required them to spend a fairly long period of time working in a zoo or animal shelter to atone for their depravity.”
I have always thought that was the most stupid and dangerous kind of sentence- if you have someone that has demonstrated violence to some group (animals, elderly, children etc.) the last place you want to put them is in a target-rich environment. That’s just nuts.
As to the question posed in the Professors article I’m leaning toward ‘yes’ only because these guys aren’t just stupid-a**ed kids (mid-teen aged) that may need counseling and training on how to behave in society and help with a drinking issue; they’re in their twenties- their brains are pretty well fully formed and functioning.
I hesitate to just say ‘yes’ though. If they have otherwise clean records just how heavy should a penalty be for a first offense? What if as a first offense (if it is a first offense) they were picked up for smoking a J or getting into a brawl with other drunks or doing some minor damage to some property? What would the school do? If I were the school I might want to have a trained mental health professional assess their character before I threw out years of teaching and student investment because they might be something, a sociopath or some other deeply damaged personality disorder.
I’m just going to assume a very drunk guy got pissed because he had to chase the bird and killed it in that fit of drunken anger. Admittedly that’s a pretty shocking lapse. The typical stupid/drunk thing to do would be to catch it and turn it loose in the Casino and that may be how it started. I think that needs to be determined before the school acts.
It’s probably good I’m not the dean of a law school, I’d dither until they had graduated and were in personal practice. 🙂
Should these two be allowed back into law school?
We had an incident it seems about 20 years ago where two yahoos such as these two snuck into an animal petting zoo and tortured and beat a donkey to death with a baseball bat. A petting zoo!
I can say without reservation when the incident hit the news, the entire State of Washington was outraged. It went across the complete spectrum of people, hunters, farmers, everybody wanted them put away or worse.
A further upset happened when it became public knowledge that the worst the two could face as far as the assault in the animal was concerned was a Gross Misdemeanor offense of Animal Cruelty. At the time, animal cruelty was not a felony in WA. In fact, the judge told the two during their sentencing hearing he felt it was a manifest injustice that he could not send them to prison for years due to the misdemeanor nature of the offense. My memory isn’t very good on the case but I believe the judge also required them to spend a fairly long period of time working in a zoo or animal shelter to atone for their depravity.
In fairly short order, the legislature acted and made animal cruelty a Class C Felony. So at least some good became of it.
“As a law professor, I am frankly appalled by the story. These students obviously worked hard to make it into a premier law school and have now thrown away their careers in a spasm of alleged senseless and inhuman violence” (JT)
What appalls me is the low life character it reveals, for an aspiring lawyer or, let’s just say, for a human being.
While even alcohol, and being drunk, clearly effects one’s reasoning and clear thinking, there is a good case to be made that it also strips much of the external veneer and reveals a much more essential picture of the individual. In this case I would argue it’s a disgusting picture and, with some sensitivity to student hijinks and tarnishing one’s oh-so-bright legal future, I’m hardly swayed.
They are obviously studying the wrong subject (unless they are aiming to become prosecutors). They should really be training to become police so they can beat up drunks in synagogues.
Osama bin Laden’s driver’s military Guantanamo conviction reversed by Court of Appeals for The District of Columbia.
“Should these men be able to return to law school after serving time for such a crime if convicted?”
AY, LOL. But, what would Luca Brasi do?
“AY, LOL. But, what would Luca Brasi do?”
Actually he would wind up sleeping with the fishes. Tough guys aren’t immune to either bullets, or garrotes.
If only these two psychopaths had beheaded Big Bird, they might have jobs waiting for them at the Romney Campaign instead of GoldmanSachs.
What would ozzie do?……..
We know what Morrison did…..
I better give the disclaimer that I don’t abide cockfighting but it was a funny, non pc episode. Non pc is Larry David and Seinfeld’s specialty.
Blouise, LOL. I’m remembering the Seinfeld episode w/ Jerry the fighting chicken.
“Cal Berkley, need I say more.”
U. Cal. Berkeley has around 27 Nobel laureates associated with it. How’s your school doing?
“All of that is determined before they sit in our classes. However, we can keep out of the profession those people who have taken sadistic pleasure from the suffering of animals or people.
What do you think? Should these men be able to return to law school after serving time for such a crime if convicted?”
I find unprovoked, remorseless cruelty to a defenseless creature a disqualifier for most every station in life.
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