SYDNEY — Riots have broken out across Australia as shocking news arrives from the courthouses of Australia today that the jury in the trial of Burns v. Legs finds the defendant, Anthony “Legs”, Not Guilty.
Legs, a Sydney Funnel-web spider from the Namadgi National Park outside of Canberra was standing trial against Jeremy “Burns”, the media-darling Koala that was released back into the wild last lear after recovering from major burns on all four paws, on charges of assault and attempted murder. Burns was seeking Legs’ property as damages, in addition to a lifetime of incarceration. Legs plead self-defense.
This Not Guilty ruling comes as a shock to anyone that had been paying close attention to this landmark case — the first in modern history where plaintiff and defendant were both non-human. Up to last week, lawyers on both sides had strong arguments for their clients, but Legs’ defense faced an enormous blow on Thursday after their star witness, Leia “Legs” (no relation), a Cane Toad, failed to deliver testimony at the stand. It seems the jury was unswayed by her indiscretion, however.
The ten-member jury — composed of six humans, two-spiders, and two-koalas — deliberated for more than eight hours before coming to the unanimous decision of Not Guilty.
In a statement to the press, Jeremy Burns’ attorney remarked that “This is not the end. We will be seeking a mistrial. Man or beast, what was done to Jeremy is a truly awful thing, and he deserves closure as much as his attacker deserves punishment”. Anthony Legs’ attorney had neither a rebuttal to that statement, nor a general statement about the results of the case, but did speak of his client’s desire to return home and “put this terrible incident behind all of us”.
The incident was brought to court earlier this month, a few days after onlookers found Burns writhing in pain at the foot of a Eucalyptus tree, with Legs standing nearby. Burns was rushed to the nearest Veterinary hospital, where he was given an anti-venom for the poisonous bite. Legs was captured in a shoebox by animal control and held in custody until his bail hearing. As non-humans, both Burns and Legs were appointed attorneys by the court, both from the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA), an organization that primarily focuses on animal-human disputes.
We’ve reached out to the Honourable Marlon Smithson, the judge presiding over the case, for an exclusive interview. When asked about the outcome of the case Smithson replied only with “I’m just glad to have been part of this moment in history”. The full transcript of the interview will be released later today.