Animal Associations Voice Support for AQHA Cloning Appeal

As the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) continues its appeal of an August Texas district court ruling requiring it to start registering clones and their offspring, a coalition of organizations including the American Kennel Club, The Jockey Club and the Cat Fanciers Association has voiced their support, filing an amici curiae brief.

Each entity involved in the motion provides breed registry services for animals and serves as an information clearinghouse for owners and persons interested in these animals. New Orleans attorneys Phillip Wittman and Lesli Harris filed the legal document on the new coalition’s behalf.

An amici curiae, the plural form of a Latin phrase meaning “friend of the court,” seeks to educate the court on points of law, gathers or organizes information, or raises awareness about some aspect of the case the court might otherwise miss, according to a legal definition of the term. The individual or group cannot be a party to the case, but must have some knowledge or perspective that makes their views valuable to the court. Cases under appeal and in which issues of public interest are being debated are common arenas for amicus curiae motions.

The brief states: “Although the Amici Curiae have no direct interest in this particular appeal, issues raised by this case and discussed in this brief are extremely important to them. Specifically, the Amici Curiae have an interest in protecting their single entity organizational status, which is jeopardized by the district court’s adoption of the jury verdict finding that the American Quarter Horse Association (“AQHA”) is not a single entity and, instead, is capable of conspiring with one of its committees in violation of § 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. 15 U.S.C. § 1.

“The Amici Curiae’s interests are also jeopardized by the district court’s issuance of a final judgment requiring the AQHA to include eleven specifically-worded amendments to its rules and regulations in contravention of the non-intervention doctrine. Finally, the district court’s judgment in this case inhibits independent determination of whether or not to allow registration of cloned animals and their offspring. For those reasons, the Amici Curiae respectfully submit that their perspective may assist the Court with the determination of this case.”

Nancy Stone is one of three attorneys representing Texas horse owners and business partners Gregg Veneklasen and Jason Abraham, who prevailed in original jury court trial and district court decisions aimed at securing the registrations of cloned horses and their offspring. Stone said the new motion should not impact an appeal she believes will fail.

“We expected it. We’re not surprised, and it doesn’t change our opinion,” Stone said. “It doesn’t change our belief that we will continue to prevail.”

U.S. Northern District of Texas Judge Mary Lou Robinson signed an order on Aug. 19 requiring the AQHA to pay $891,387 in attorney fees to Veneklasen and Abraham. She also ordered the horse association to initiate preparations to allow registration of clones and their foals. Judge Robinson later granted the AQHA a stay, allowing it to delay the new registration process until a decision on the association’s appeal has been rendered.

On Dec. 26, the AQHA filed its latest appellate brief in the cloning lawsuit with the U.S. Fifth Circuit District Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Veneklasen and Abraham’s legal response to that statement is due with the same court in mid-January. Following that statement, the AQHA will have another 14 days to reply with its next legal statement.

“We are extremely pleased with the brief and the excellent work or our legal team, and we look forward to presenting our case to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals,” the AQHA stated on their website on Jan. 3.