A judge ruled Tuesday that the town of Stratford will have to pay thousands of dollars for the ongoing shelter of four cats involved in an active animal cruelty case, according to one of the defendants.
William Perreira and his 91-year-old mother, Marion Perreira, were both .
But before bringing criminal charges against the Perreiras, the town filed a civil suit against them, which deals with the custody of the four cats seized Oct. 28, 2011 from the Frash Street home they both reside at.
"Civil is for possession so they can keep the animals," said William Perreira, whose mother doesn't want to give up her cats.
The two cases have complicated litigation as each trial could affect the outcome of the other, according to Judge Dale W. Radcliffe. And it seems the town isn't certain on how to proceed either, as it has asked for and been granted a motion for continuance five times since March 2012, according to court documents.
What Radcliffe ruled Tuesday in Bridgeport Superior Court, according to William Perreira, is that the town is responsible for the $15/day shelter fee for each cat, retroactive to early January when the Perreiras first appeared in court after being arrested.
As of Tuesday, the bill topped $16,000. The town will continue to be responsible for the fees until the criminal case is finished, according to Perreira. Only after the criminal case ends can the civil case start, the judge ruled, according to Perreira. The Perreiras will only be responsible for the shelter fees after the criminal case if they lose the civil case.
"Judge said it was the town's fault for starting the civil trial and it created an unnecessary burden for me and my mother," he said.
Perreira said Judge Radcliffe told the town not to bother with an appeal of the ruling because it won't change.
"The town will be appealing the ruling, but probably cannot do so until the final outcome of the case, which is likely to be many months from now," Stratford Town Attorney Tim Bishop said Wednesday, in an email. "The town's position has always been that the two cases involve different remedies and can proceed independently."
Bishop continued, "We argued that a criminal defendant is protected by his/her right to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in the civil proceeding and the law quite clearly contemplates this exact situation in cases of animal abuse and neglect, where the animals' best interests lie in placing them in a good home as swiftly as possible."
"I'm told today that the judge gave the criminal defendants additional relief in the form of not holding them accountable for the statutory costs of housing the animals while the criminal charges are pending," Bishop wrote. "The unfortunate result for the Stratford taxpayer is that we all have to pay to house animals in a shelter while the person accused of neglecting them can drag out the criminal and civil proceedings without any consequences."
Bishop concluded by saying the town expects the Appellate Court to side with them, and that the town will be seeking to recover legal expenses as well.
The civil case was continued to October. William and Marion Perreira are due in court for their criminal cases Friday, Sept. 7.
For more background on this case, see (Note: Marion Perreira has .)