Tennessee Supreme Court Affirms Denial of Pretrial Diversion for Defendant in Animal Cruelty Case

January 23, 2013

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that a prosecutor did not abuse his discretion in denying pretrial diversion to a man accused of 16 counts of animal cruelty for intentionally or knowingly failing to provide necessary food and care to horses on his Warren County farm.

In July 2009, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture investigated Sidney S. Stanton III’s farm and discovered several dead horses and others in very poor health. Stanton had over 50 horses on his property, many of which were in poor condition, which investigators determined was due to overpopulation and lack of food. Stanton later surrendered some 26 horses. Stanton was charged with animal cruelty and applied for pretrial judicial diversion. The prosecutor denied diversion and Stanton appealed, arguing that the prosecutor considered irrelevant factors, failed to consider all relevant factors, and failed to state what weight he assigned to each piece of evidence submitted.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, ruled that the prosecutor did not abuse his discretion in denying pretrial diversion and affirmed the decision of the lower courts.

Click here to read the Sidney S. Stanton III v. State opinion.