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Published on Jul 12, 2013
This gem from the annals of television criminal litigation has defence lawyer Perry Mason suggesting that a dog, known by the moniker "Hardtack." should be indicted for assault. While arguing a motion to dismiss a complaint against Hardtack`s owner for not taking reasonable steps to prevent the dog from biting the complainant, Mason contends that criminal intent was not set out in the complaint and "perhaps, the proper criminal procedure would have been the indictment of the dog." When the prosecutor states that he assumes that Mason must be joking, Mason alludes to the indictments and prosecutions of a cow in France in 1740, a rooster in Switzerland in 1474 and rats in the 15th century. Apparently, the rats won their case but Mason lost his motion. I suspect Perry deliberately lost the motion so that he could proceed with the trial as he was confident that somebody was going to get slain before the hour was up and he knew he could use the dog bite trial to help dig up information for use in the upcoming murder case. (Perry secured the dog owner an acquittal in the dog bite case but the dog was placed on probation.) Sure enough, somebody was murdered later in the episode. During the preliminary inquiry, Perry allows the dog to cross-examine the real killer who confesses to the crime under the pressure of Hardtack`s withering and persistent questioning. This clip is excerpted from "The Case of the Golden Oranges" which originally aired on March 7, 1963.