Bringing a Comfort Animal to Court May Not Be Your Best Move

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jun 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

A recent report indicates that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is considering new rules for using comfort animals to calm witnesses in court. Court appearances can be stressful, but who would have thought that it would come to this?

You or someone you know could indeed benefit from a comfort animal or, more so, a service dog easing a disability in court. Yet those who appear in court have far better things they can usually do to make their best impression. And the best thing they can do is to retain the premier Philadelphia criminal-defense representation of attorney Joseph D. Lento. Get real. Don't rely on an animal for your defense. Get the best available attorney representation.

Service Dog Assistance as a Disabled Person's Right

Both the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and Pennsylvania's Human Rights Act protect persons with disabilities from discrimination for using a service animal in a place of public accommodation. ADA regulations currently define a service animal as a dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. A Pennsylvania state guide indicates that service dogs include guide dogs for the visually impaired, mobility dogs, hearing-alert dogs, and medical-alert dogs for people with conditions like seizures and diabetes. Service dogs can mean not only access but life or death to the disabled person relying on them.

Comfort Animals Are a Different Breed

A comfort animal, though, isn't a service dog. No less of an authority than the American Kennel Club, who you'd think would want dogs everywhere, recognizes that comfort animals are a breed apart. The AKC rightly points out that while emotional-support animals may have the individual training the ADA requires for recognition as a service animal, their training is not to do work or perform tasks for their disabled owner. Comfort animals are not service animals. Courts, businesses, and other places of public accommodation may generally exclude comfort animals if they wish.

Trial Comportment Is Important

Still, confident, assured, and appropriate comportment at trial can be quite important. Looks can certainly be deceiving. But nervous parties can look like guilty parties. And nervous witnesses can look like lying witnesses. How you dress, speak, and act in the courtroom can potentially affect case outcomes. Here are a few tips to improve your courtroom appearance:

  • dress more formally than you would on the street, showing respect for the judge, jury, and court;
  • no hats, short pants, short skirts, unbuttoned shirts, torn or worn clothing, or anything else of which your mother would disapprove;
  • avoid chewing gum furiously, twisting your hair repeatedly, wringing your hands, and anything else exhibiting anxiety;
  • look directly and respectfully at your lawyer, the judge, opposing counsel, or anyone else who addresses you directly, rather than down or away; and
  • avoid obvious and exaggerated facial expressions like anger, laughter, or disdain, especially when it looks like acting.

Skilled Defense Counsel Is Best

Making a good appearance in court is a step in the right direction, although better without seeking a comfort animal. First impressions count. Judges and jurors do draw things from how one looks and acts in court. But skilled and aggressive defense representation from Philadelphia criminal-defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will do you much better than simply looking good in court. If you or a loved one faces criminal charges in the Philadelphia area, then call the Lento Law Firm now at 888-535-3686 or go online for live chat.

Meta Title: Your Court Appearance Matters, But Counsel Matters More

Meta Description: Dressing and acting responsibly in court helps more than a comfort animal. But retain defense counsel. Call 888-535-3686 now.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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