Fasten your seat belts folks, this one’s a winner.
In San Francisco, Diane Whipple, a 33 year old Lacrosse coach was savagely slain by two large Canary Island dogs. This brutal attack took place at the woman’s front door inside her own apartment building. The owner of the dogs was entirely unable to control or discourage the animals during the attack. Recent developments report that the owner, Robert Noel, had one of his own fingers bitten off by one of these animals. Witnesses continue to come forward with reports of vicious behavior and aggressive conduct by these dogs.
(But wait, there’s more!)
The owners of these animals, Robert Noel and his wife, are a married pair of lawyers who live in the same building. They recently defended Paul Schneider, a convicted double murderer who currently serves time in Pelican Bay. This is a state of the art maximum security prison in northern California that houses the super-violent and high escape risk offenders. Prior to his incarceration, Paul Schneider owned a dog breeding operation that not only supplied guard dogs to commercial enterprises but illegal fighting dogs as well. It is alleged that Schneider and another inmate at Pelican Bay, one Dale Bretches, continue to operate a dog fighting ring from behind bars. (WTF?!?)
(But wait, there’s more!)
Recently, Robert Noel and his wife legally adopted Schneider! This convict is 38 years of age and there is no foreseeable benefit imaginable by dint of this adoption. Using their own power of attorney, these two put through the paperwork for Schneider. I am struck by the peculiarity of all this. What is even more unimaginable, is that Robert Noel and his wife were in any way unaware of the nature of these animals when they received them from their convict client. Attempting to house these two large and aggressive dogs in a high density urban environment is tantamount to leaving a loaded gun laying around in a preschool. There was a proven history of violent behavior for these animals and only strict confinement could have prevented this tragic loss of life. The female of the two dogs (Hera and Bane respectively) had previously assaulted Ms. Whipple on another occasion. Sadly, she did not report this to the police or animal authorities.
Bane, the male of the animal pair has already been put to death. With the influx of evidence against Hera, it is also likely that she will be euthanized as well. The lawyer couple should face prosecution for willfully endangering human life and possible intentional manslaughter charges for their possession of these animals. It is impossible to believe that they were unaware of the background of these animals. Their questionable involvement with Paul Schneider raises many questions of ethics and conduct that should merit excruciating peer review. That Schneider seems to have raised these two animals with the strict intent that they be violent in nature should make him an accessory to this death as well. However, that may be reaching a bit too far, legally speaking.
My own perception is that there is some sort of extortion or blackmail going on against one or the other participants in this legal charade. That Schneider might become Robert Noel’s heir or that the lawyers might have some claim in Schneider’s estate reeks of a conflict of interest. This is a screwball arrangement that demands investigation. That a loss of human life should have occurred by way of all these shenanigans is reprehensible and demands punitive action. I envision disbarment and possible imprisonment for both of the Noels.
I am interested in the reactions of other lawyers at these boards who might be able to illuminate ostensible reasons or motives for these peculiar arrangements. I can only see criminal intent behind these odd actions and would like to hear from others about their thoughts.