Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Play Dead

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Play Dead

by David Rosenfelt

Play Dead
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  • First Published:
    May 2007, 320 pages
    Aug 2009, 384 pages

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Beyond the Book

Animals on Trial
The idea of canine testimony being accepted in court is not without precedent (e.g. drug smugglers who are convicted on the evidence of sniffer dogs), but what about the idea of putting an animal itself on trial?

These days, animals are not tried on the basis that they lack the ability to make moral judgments and therefore cannot be held culpable for an act. However, this was not always so. Numerous cases exist in history, many of them collected in The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals written by Edward Payson Evans in 1906 and reprinted in the 1980s. For example:

"In 1386, the tribunal of Falaise sentenced a sow to be mangled and maimed in the head and forelegs, and then to be hanged, for having torn the face and arms of a child and thus caused his death…. [T]he sow was dressed in men's clothes and executed on the public square near the city hall at the expense to the state of ten sous and ten deniers, ...

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