Kristen Lindsey, veterinarian in bow-killing case, files motion for partial retrial

Kristen Lindsey, veterinarian in bow-killing case, files motion for partial retrial

Moves to strike Texas board expert’s testimony based on VIN comments, alleges witness was not impartial.
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Jun 21, 2016

Kristen Lindsey and Brian Bishop, her attorney, at the administrative hearing. (Photo courtesy of Alley Cat Allies)

 

Kristen Lindsey, DVM, the Texas veterinarian at the center of the controversy surrounding the bow-shooting death of a cat that began more than a year ago, has filed a motion to strike testimony from a witness who testified during an administrative hearing to determine the status of her license, according to court documents.

William Folger, DVM, MS, DABVP (feline), feline regent for the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, testified as an expert witness for the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME) on the pain the cat that Lindsey shot may have felt and the immediacy of its death. Lindsey's motion calls into question Folger's ability to give fair and balanced testimony based on online statements Folger made on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) website regarding Lindsey's actions.

In April 2015, Lindsey posted an inflammatory message on Facebook along with a graphic photo of herself holding an orange and white cat with an arrow shot through its head. "My first bow kill ... lol," the post read. "The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it's [sic] head! Vet of the year award ... gladly accepted."

An Austin County grand jury found insufficient evidence to charge Lindsey with criminal animal cruelty, though there was a tidal wave of outrage from all corners of the world regarding her actions. The TBVME, however, found her in violation of the Veterinary Practice Act and moved to revoke her license.

After a mediation session to resolve the case was unsuccessful, a hearing before administrative law judges took place on April 25-26, 2016. Testimony was heard over two days with witnesses being called by both Lindsey and the TBVME.
Lindsey testifying during her administrative hearing. (Photo courtesy of Alley Cat Allies)
At the conclusion of that hearing, lawyers for both parties had until June 10 to submit closing arguments. But on June 6, Lindsey's lawyer filed a motion that seeks a partial new trial or to reopen the evidence to supplement the record and to strike testimony of Folger, according to court documents.

During the hearing Folger discussed the markings of the cat in question and the pain and suffering it likely experienced. He also testified that he believed that the cat in the photo was still alive when Lindsey took the picture, based on its body positioning, local media reported. Lindsey had asserted that the cat died instantaneously in her testimony.

In the June 6 motion, Lindsey's lawyer asserts that Folger's testimony contained "extremely damning and incriminating opinions to support the Board's allegations" and that most of Folger's opinions were "subjective conclusions based on what Dr. Folger testified he believed the 4/15/15 Facebook photograph showed."

The motion alleges that Folger's testimony at the hearing directly contradicted what he'd posted about the situation on the VIN website in 2015. According to the motion, Folger wrote on VIN that "it seems to be a perfect kill shot through the skull ... a perfect kill shot by a novice hunter with a cat that may be missing part of it's [sic] RR leg = could the cat have been caught in a trap? If the cat was immobilized, it would have made the perfect kill shot by a novice more likely."

Folger also displayed animosity toward Lindsey and her actions in his VIN posts, according to the motion, comparing her to Hannibal Lecter and calling her a lunatic, stating that he hoped for "Texas to be free of Kristen Lindsey. I hope she leaves our great state," that he was ashamed over "how incompetent and lazy the local DA was in this matter," and that he hoped the state board would be more diligent.

Folger also sent an email to the district attorney's office after its decision not to pursue criminal animal cruelty charges against Lindsey, according to the motion. In the email he sarcastically congratulated the attorney for clearing Lindsey and said he hoped she'd leave Texas "right now," the motion states.

Lindsey's lawyer says in the motion that this new evidence "fatally undermines Dr. Folger's credibility and his integrity" and that his testimony should be stricken from the record as patently untrustworthy and unreliable. Folger was the primary witness the TBVME called in this case.

The TBVME filed a response to Lindsey's motion on June 20, calling the motion an "eleventh-hour attempt to discredit a highly reliable, informative expert witness," according to court documents. The board states that Lindsey's motion doesn't meet the required elements to reopen evidence, that she hasn't shown good cause for partial new trial and that there's no basis to strike Folger's testimony. The TBVME asks that the motion be denied by the administrative law judges assigned to the case.

In its response the TBVME argues that Lindsey and her lawyer did not do due diligence to obtain Folger's comments before the trial, though they were readily available. "Respondent's motion merely states that Respondent's counsel 'has obtained' the VIN comments. Respondent did not divulge when the comments were obtained," the TBVME's response states. "If the comments were obtained before the hearing, Respondent cannot introduce them after the fact simply because Dr. Folger's testimony was harmful to her position."

The TBVME alleges that Lindsey and her lawyer had opportunity to research Folger and prepare for his cross-examination, but it appeared that they "simply declined to do so." Lindsey's lawyer could have deposed Folger, requested a written expert report or asked for a more detailed designation of Folger's expected testimony, but "deliberately declined to do any of these things," according to the court document.

In regard to Lindsey's assertion that Folger's VIN comments were inconsistent and biased compared with his testimony at the hearing, the TBVME states that the comments "clearly reflect a practitioner who is shocked and disgusted by Respondent’s actions. However, these statements don’t necessarily show bias. In fact, they are entirely consistent with Petitioner’s position that Respondent has tarnished the practice of veterinary medicine and should no longer be allowed to practice in Texas."

The TBVME asserts that though Folger may find Lindsey's actions reprehensible, there is no indication that Folger's personal opinions in any way affected the professional, expert opinions offered in his testimony. It also notes that Lindsey's motion inaccurately states that Folger's testimony is "the only evidence" the TBVME presented to prove that the cat Lindsey shot was not an intact male as she has claimed. The TBVME also presented photography and testimony from Tiger's owners and pet sitter.

Other arguments the TBVME makes against granting Lindsey a partial new trial is that the admission of the new evidence at this stage of the hearing process will cause a considerable delay to the already lengthy process and that "Staff has already devoted substantial time and resources in responding to Respondent’s copious pleadings and conducting the contested case hearing. Furthermore, Respondent has repeatedly complained that the contested case proceedings have prevented her from finding permanent employment."

From here, each side has until July 8 (extended from July 1) to respond to the other party's arguments. Should the case follow standard protocol, the administrative law judges will then have 60 days to issue a decision. Both parties will have an opportunity to file written responses and ask the judges for any changes they feel are appropriate. The TBVME will then consider the case at its next open meeting. The TBVME expects that the case will go before the full board at its October 2016 meeting.

Kristen Lindsey

Ms. Lindsey was Tiger's judge and jury, no "impartial witness" for Tiger. My son is a doctor and took and oath "first do no harm.....", I'm an RN and also took an oath, our oaths I believe are assumed to be for our actual patients. But if either of us murdered someone who wasn't "our patient"--how about one of the homeless?-- we'd immediately lose our license and that would be the least--if it could be proven that we murdered a totally innocent victim for what? Fun? we'd also lose our freedom. As we should. We'd be criminals, no longer professionals.The fact that Ms. Lindsey isn't being criminally charged for murdering a potential patient, and someone's pet, for sport is apparently a done deal. But why in the world should someone as cold and callous as she is be allowed to call herself a doctor who treats all God's creatures? Because she finished vet school and obtained her license? Do what's right and protect our animals and pets and set her free so she can get on with her life. Jerk that license permanently. There is nothing rehabilitable about this person. She was PROUD of what she did. This has already gone on way too long. As just a regular person from a small town in Florida I can tell you-all an entire nation is watching. And NOT out of concern for Ms. Lindsey's "rights". SHE chose to throw them away.

She should not be around animals!

What is so disturbing to me is not just the recklessness that allowed this woman to kill somebody's pet. It was the relish an sick pleasure she seemed to take in the act. I know there are times in every vet's career when an animal needs to be put down ~ usually because the animal is very old and suffering with something that is incurable. However, during these times, it is a very somber occasion. The animal and its owner are treated with respect. Kristen Lindsey seemed to want to kill a pet for the sheer pleasure of killing. And, the fact that this dear animal might have still been alive when she held it up with the arrow through its head is SO cruel, so very cruel ~ I really can't even imagine what it would take for Ms. Lindsey to come back from that and earn our trust again, but that burden would be hers, not ours. What would make us want to trust her alone in a room with any vulnerable animal ever again? Think of it! If she were to get her license back, there will come a day when unsuspecting owners will bring their beloved pets to a woman with a cruel streak a mile wide; nothing she has said or done indicates any real remorse. Yet she wants to be a vet again. Can we allow that to happen? What's next? A license to practice for Michael Vicks?

Forgiveness

There is no question that what Kristen did was disgusting, and then to bring macho to its lowest level is genuinely wrong, and to not think about the ramifications to her profession and to herself shows some kind of lack. However, this is a young veterinarian, who has been educated at the expense of many, i.e. herself, possibly her parents, most likely government, and the loss of the student that could have replaced her in school.

IMHO it would be a loss to society to condemn her for life. I think a year or more of community service working in a government animal rescue facility, or for the peace corp or some similar entity, with minimal to no pay or her pay donated to charity, with a written apology showing genuine remorse, might serve society well, and possibly reflect on the humanity of her judges. Robert J. Greenwald DVM
Venice Florida

Ethics and Regulation

Dr. Greenwald:

I applaud your humanity. I hope you are not a regulator.

The board has not "condemned" her for life. She is not in prison. She has not been denied her liberty, her freedom or her education. She is free to do whatever else her temperament or education may allow. She could go to grad school. She is employable in the pharmaceutical or animal industries as a non-licensed professional. At this point in time, however, being a licensed practitioner is probably not a good idea for anybody.

Your suggestion that she work with "minimal to no pay" is also not a good idea. Slavery is outlawed in the United States.

The board should maintain license action against her. If the board chose to be likewise humanitarian minded, they could allow her an opportunity to reapply for licensure after a period of time - some period of years. At the end of a hypothetical censure period, the board could put other qualifications on her - like requiring her to pass the veterinary board exams (again) - or at least requiring her to maintain continuing education during her censure.

I had an orange tabby that I adopted when I worked in Washington, DC. His lineage was uncertain but I believe that he came from the alley or similar. I found him through acquaintances at a local veterinary hospital. I got him for practical reasons as I had problems with "rodents" in my building. After I got him, the rodent problem went away. Twelve years and two states later, he developed a nasal adenocarcinoma and I had to put him down. Although I got him as a "ratter", I bonded with him when others might have just written him off. So I suppose that I speak on behalf of "feral" orange tabbies everywhere - who cannot speak for themselves.

Also, as a non-medical professional, I also speak for pet owners who place our trust in your profession to regulate itself.

Note: My dad (RIP) was a veterinarian.

Robert Fay, CPA
Okemos, Michigan

Regulated Professionals, Ethics and Ms. Lindsey

I am a licensed accountant in more than one state. I am always concerned about maintaining personal and professional actions which do not violate the laws and codes which regulate our profession. The AICPA ethical guidelines are incorporated by reference into most state laws. Moreover, I am sometimes amazed when I read state newsletters about enforcement actions taken against fellow CPAs for violations of the accounting codes. Some of those violations are small (maybe missing a continuing education deadline) while others are large and aim at the heart of the profession such as issuing a fraudulent audit report or perpetrating an embezzlement scheme against a client. California is particularly enforcement heavy - I always read California's newsletter.

If an accountant violated a fundamental principle of the profession, they would certainly not gloat about it - not publicly anyway. Arthur Anderson was a distinguished international accounting firm and issued fraudulent financial statements over the Enron Corporation. As a firm of regulated professionals, Anderson knew to not draw attention to their ethical breech for fear of regulatory reprisal. In 2001, however, only after the financial press began publishing articles about Enron did Anderson face scrutiny for its misdeeds which resulted in their demise as a regulated firm.

Ms. Lindsey (......pardon me Dr. Lindsey) did not hide her actions. She publicly displayed them. She invited scrutiny. I would advise the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to remember that other regulated professionals play in a "rough and tumble" sandbox what with the likes of the IRS, the SEC, and the PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board). Pardon my glibness, but mostly true, our financial regulators are not like your proverbial James Herriot.

Before his demise, Bernard Madoff was the toast of Wall Street - he was the former chairman of the NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers) Exchange - and a licensed stock broker. Before her conviction, Martha Stewart was a media domestic diva and a licensed trader. Needless to say, neither are licensed any more.

To be fair, Ms. Lindsey's misdeed was not financial. She did not privately gain by her action. My point is ethical. And, specifically my points are about the ethics of regulated professionals where the public places great trust in their special knowledge and abilities.

I would hope that the TBVME considers all of the facts and circumstances and rules appropriately. That said, I further hope that in the future I may properly refer to Kristen Lindsey as "Ms. Lindsey" - of course that is not my call.

Actually, I think Ms. Lindsey would make a pretty good stock broker.

My Opinion about Kristen Lindsey

After reading this article I cannot sit by and say nothing. My desire is that this woman has her license to practice veterinary medicine revoked by the TVMB. She does not deserve to even have DVM associated with her name. What she did and said after she killed this cat is deplorable and she totally slaps her DVM degree and the Veterinarian's Oath in the face. She has no place in our profession.

Ann C. Pettigrew, V.M.D.
York, PA