Times Non-Humans Were Used as Witnesses

Humans aren’t the only ones who’ve had to show up at court; animals, puppets and robots have taken the stand as well. Some courts begrudgingly allowed it while others flat out refused. Some parrots and dogs had to testify in criminal proceedings while a certain children’s educational puppet had a chat with Congress. No matter the reason, here are five times non humans were used as witnesses.

1. Peach the Dog

A misunderstanding between the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the West Midlands Police Station in Wales led to one of the funniest exchanges ever. For their upcoming case, CPS requested a witness statement from Police Constable Peach who actually turned out to be Police Dog Peach, a four-year-old German shepherd. Undeterred, CPS insisted on the statement, so the police did next-best thing: they wrote the statement, in a wriggly doggy handwriting saying, “I chase him. I bite him. Bad man. He tasty. Goody boy. Good boy Peach,” signed with Peach’s paw print. The post quickly went viral on Facebook and CPS became the butt of several jokes.

2. Max the Parrot

Sometime in November of 1991, a 36-year-old woman named Jane Gill was found in her home and her business partner, Gary Joseph Rasp quickly became a suspect. Max, her parrot, was found nearly two days later, hungry and thirsty. After being nursed back to health, Max immediately shouted out, “Richard, no, no, no!” Everyone was stunned, to say the least. Rasp’s lawyer was determined to prove his client’s innocence by trying to produce the bird as a witness. But the judge overruled his request and Max’s whereabouts were kept secret, long after the incident.

3. Buddy the Dog

In the early 20th century, a Major General for the US Armed Forces named Eli Helmick and a hat seller by the name of Keeley Morse went to court over a dog named Buddy… or Prince, depending on who you asked. Helmick named his dog Buddy who he last saw in November 1921 while a similar dog named Prince popped up in Morse’s hat shop just a few months later. The two wound up arguing in court and to put an end to the dispute once and for all, judge Kimball let the dog into the courtroom and placed him on a chair. Buddy immediately ran towards Helmick’s wife and the judge ruled the case in Helmick’s favor.

4. Elmo

Elmo, Sesame Street’s top star, made a special appearance before Congress in 2002 to have a little chat about the Education Appropriation Subcommittee to support an increase in funding to purchase music equipment and to fund music research in schools. Although a few people enjoyed this light-hearted moment, many of them were unimpressed, and even annoyed. It didn’t help that Elmo interrupted a couple of witnesses and tried to munch down on the mic a couple of times.

5. Pepper the Robot

In 2018, Pepper, who is just one of a group of smart robots created by the Japanese company SoftBank Robotics, became the first robot to appear before the British Parliament. Pepper testified alongside several human witnesses including roboticists and computer scientists. The purpose of all this was to prove the usefulness of robots and artificial intelligence to humans. Pepper has performed a number of jobs including receptionist and cashier, although he was fired from the latter.

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