Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Marie Atake speaks for Stu:A Letter to the City Attorney

To: David Michaelson, Branch Chief (the boss of Dov and Todd Leung)

I am a former Commissioner on the Board of LA Animal Services of the city of Los Angeles, and am currently sitting on the city’s Spay/Neuter Ordinance Advisory Committee, as a District-11 appointee.

Animal Services Dept. wants to kill an owned dog in an obvious miscarriage of justice that is playing out before our eyes. The owner’s due process rights at the administrative hearing and at the administrative Appeal were stymied in multiple ways. 1) Expert evidence supporting the dog was kept out at the hearing level, 2) a city Commissioner hearing the Appeal engaged in ex parte communications with the appellant, formed a personal bias, and pushed the others toward her personal bias formed in that ex parte communication. Evidence that in the four intervening years the dog has had no problems has also been kept out.

The Commissioner engaging in the ex parte communications is gone. A majority of the current Commissioners, having heard the due process accusations, and one of the Commissioners being personally aware of the due process accusations, want to drop the case. However, their efforts have been obstructed. A State Court decision that will let LAAS kill the dog, “Stu” is imminent. But after two separate Commissioners formally requested that an agenda item for a vote to drop the case, the item was kept off the agenda. Their last scheduled meeting for June 8, 2009 would have been their last chance to vote before the State Court decision that will likely kill Stu. That meeting was abruptly canceled for no reason. The public has consistently spoken to save Stu and they have been summarily ignored. The owner has done this mostly without a lawyer, having spent all his money trying to keep his beloved dog alive.

This case goes far beyond the one dog. This case demonstrates the abuse of process which has taken place and the due process violations now being tolerated by the city. As a result of the city not taking responsibility for the past violations, city’s time and monetary resources are being spent to continue its prosecution even after the city’s due process violations came to light.

Even murderers are allowed to go free when their due process rights are violated. In this case, there are so many due process violations I lose count. More detail is in an article at this link:

I’ve been fighting for this dog’s life and fighting for the city’s integrity since I was on the Commission. Stu has been kept behind bars for 4 years already. He’s old now, and probably has only another year or two to live his natural life unless cut short by this travesty.

In my letter of resignation from the Commission on the Board of Animal Services Dept. to Mayor Villaraigosa almost two years ago (, I wrote the following, and it was referring to Stu’s case:
“Recently, the Commission discovered its serious procedural problems with a past appeal. I was not involved with this particular appeal, however, I felt it was the Commission’s sworn duty to right its wrongs, and restore its integrity, when the process was violated, with unfairness and prejudice appearing high and harmful.
“Unfortunately I have learned that certain members of your administration, this department and the Commission are incapable of acknowledging errors, therein misleading the public. Such actions (or inactions) are resulting in the needless suffering and death of many animals, mistreatment of the public, and wasting of financial and human capital.”

It is significant that, in the lower State Court case regarding the owner’s other dog, the Judge ruled in favor of the owner on the same issues of due process.

Meanwhile, this case has been an ongoing battle for four years! For four years, it has been draining city human and financial resources, to pursue a case with due process violations by the city. I’m really astonished with the wasteful and negative behavior of Mr. Todd Leung, the city attorney, along with others who perpetuate this inhumane condition for Stu. I wholeheartedly understand his owner’s frustration, and the growing public anger as the city tolerates this failure of justice.

Since Stu’s owner is not a lawyer, he may not have done a good job framing the due process violations for the Court, but the Commission is aware of them, and so am I. Attached please find my Declaration in the case.

If we are to believe the Mayor’s statements that the city has a budget crisis, shouldn’t we see the City Attorney’s resources better directed than wasted on so many years of litigation over a now 10-year old dog when the initial hearing was tainted with due process violations!?

This is 1) sheer animal cruelty 2) a total waste of our tax-dollars. The city attorney’s office should not be accepting due process violations against any constituent.

I urge you to take immediate measures to correct the procedural and due process violations by withdrawing the city’s opposition to the case. Anything less is supporting constitutional violations. The State Court decision is imminent and this needs to be cleared up right away. I hope you can and will help.

Marie Atake


  1. Exactly correct and well-worded. FREE STU NOW!

  2. Please allow Stu to go home. This is not an act of humanity that your are doing!

  3. Wonderful letter! FREE STU NOW!


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