Contact Us Today 713.588.9800

Media Coverage

Jessica Milligan Saves Koda, the German Shepherd Dog, from Destruction 

(article shortened for purposes of publication)

On November 17, a friend of mine who knew of my involvement in animal welfare contacted me about a dog named Koda, a German Shepherd dog had been ordered seized and subsequently to ordered destroyed. 
Koda had bitten a woman's hand in a freak accident about a month before he was ordered seized by a City Judge. Koda was fully vaccinated with 2 years left on his rabies vaccine and had absolutely no history of being aggressive in any way. There were multiple neighbors who were willing to testify to that. None of that swayed the municipal judge as a BARC middle manager testified he was a dangerous dog. Koda was ordered destroyed. 

I then contacted one of my true heroes, attorney Jessica Milligan 
Why? Because she has been fighting those who abuse animals for years from the Harris County DA's office. AND, in a state where no one ever seemed to go to jail for any and all types of animal abuse, she prosecuted a case where a man who tortured animals received a 50-year sentence in Texas Department of Corrections.   

So, from the day I learned that had happened I already liked her. I subsequently worked with her as founding members of the Harris County Animal Cruelty Task Force. 

Jessica recently left the county to begin private practice and I reached out to her immediately and connected her to Morgan and Koda. While she warned us this case would be extremely difficult because there had never been a dangerous dog appeal from the City of Houston to the Harris County Courts, she was obviously the right attorney for the job. Note: She does more than animal cases and is a highly accomplished attorney for any need in my opinion. Watching her in the Koda case was watching a true master work a courtroom.   

First, we had a hearing in front of the judge who sentenced Koda to be destroyed. In that hearing Jessica and Morgan's original attorney made  it clear we were going to appeal the judge's decision. Then she argued that given the egregious injuries sustained at BARC, Koda should go to his veterinarian's care. The judge's seizure order clearly stated Koda "...should be impounded in secure and humane conditions until the Court orders the disposition..." Unfortunately, the court said Koda could NOT come to his vet's clinic.    

Jessica then went to County Court and battled the position that the case had standing in County Court as a denovo appeal in front of a jury, whereas the city prosecutor wanted the case to stay in municipal court where he had been successful arguing Koda had no right to appeal.  
Next, Jessica again argued that Koda should be transferred to the care of his private veterinarian and this judge agreed. Koda was immediately transferred to Garden Oaks Veterinary Clinic where he would stay for the remainder of his case.   

My fear was we would not win. However, we continued to line up Koda's witnesses, including an expert behaviorist by the name of  Heather Crane of SeaDog Animal Training, who determined Koda was not a dangerous animal. And we worked ahead to create Koda's defense.

Finally, the appeal to County Court was accepted after an additional hearing where the prosecution argued that the County did not have standing and the appeal should be determined by a reading of the city court record.  Jessica argued multiple reasons this was not the correct legal analysis and countered the prosecutor's arguments with case law at every turn. Her final point was the best one I heard: Morgan and Koda were never given the opportunity of a trial by a jury of peers. The judge considered all arguments and granted Jessica's motion for a new trial!  
The day came a week later, and the trial began. All defense witnesses had to wait for the prosecution and the day moved on and on. By roughly 3 p.m. we were wondering when it would end. Jessica had at least 6 – 8 witnesses to put on in defense of Koda.  
Then the call came from Jessica: “Koda is free!” We sat stunned for a moment! Jessica had moved for a directed verdict against the City of Houston (that the prosecution had not proven its case). After lengthy argument, the judge agreed the City had not proven its case.  Jessica had won without ever presenting a single witness by utilizing the City's evidence against itself. Note: She had cross examined all prosecution witnesses and argued accordingly.  
Today, Koda only has three legs but he is home and happy. That would not have happened if it were not for the total involvement of Jessica Milligan. I truly believe she immersed herself in the case from the moment she took it on and, frankly, no one could have beaten her in courtroom that day.


Learn more about Jessica Milligan's work as highlighted during various phases of her career

  • "The public couldn't have asked for a better prosecutor than Jessica Milligan. She marshaled a mountain of evidence against Justice, and perhaps most important, she got Richards to flip." ~ Houston Press, 2016

America's "Top Ten Animal Defenders" 2017

What We Learned from the Crush Video Trial

Brent Justice Defends Himself in Crush-Related Cruelty Trial

Harris County DA's Animal Cruelty Program Receives National Attention


Milligan Law, PLLC is committed to answering your questions about criminal defense, animal law, personal injury, family law, and wills & trusts in Texas.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.