Federal Court Waves Off Accused Dog Fighter
(CN) - A Florida man accused of holding dog fights cannot fight the criminal charges against him in U.S. District Court, a federal judge ruled.
After Florida filed charges against James Thomas Reed in Highlands County Circuit Court, Reed tried to remove the prosecution to the Middle District of Florida.
Reed is charged with attending animal fights, felony cruelty to dogs, and resisting an officer without violence.
Authorities obtained a search warrant for Reed's home after he allegedly attended a dog fight involving pit bulls in December 2011. They ultimately seized 16 pit bulls from Reed's home.
In his January 2013 notice of removal to federal court, Reed claimed the state deprived him of his constitutional right to posses and sell pit bulls, and that it is discriminating against him because he is black.
U.S. District Judge James Moody said Monday that these claims are insufficient to support a valid claim for removal.
"The state of Florida does not deny the rights protected by those federal statutes by bringing this criminal prosecution against Reed for animal cruelty, dog fighting, and resisting an officer without violence," Moody wrote. "Rather, Reed's primary complaints as alleged in his notice of removal are appropriate defenses to the criminal prosecution in state court, not as grounds for violations of his federal civil rights."
He remanded the case to the 10th Judicial Circuit of Highlands County.