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From: TSS ()
Subject: U.S. appeal on cattle imports to be televised
Date: June 21, 2005 at 4:00 pm PST

U.S. appeal on cattle imports to be televised

Tue June 21, 2005 5:55 PM GMT-04:00
By Sophie Walker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A courtroom battle by the U.S. government to restart imports of live Canadian cattle amid claims mad cow disease in that country may pose a risk to U.S. consumers is to be televised next month.

The Canadian Broadcast Corporation has been granted permission to televise the proceedings, a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit in San Francisco told Reuters.

The U.S. Agriculture Department is appealing a March ruling by a federal court in Montana that halted, at the request of U.S. ranchers group R-CALF USA, a government plan to allow imports of Canadian cattle under 30 months of age.

The ranchers blame Canada for introducing mad cow to the United States and want to keep the border closed. So far the only U.S. confirmed case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was found in December 2003 in a Washington state dairy cow raised in Canada.

The case is likely to attract renewed interest since the USDA announced a second suspected case of mad cow disease 11 days ago. More tests on that animal are currently under way.

A total of four cases of mad cow disease stemming from Canadian cattle have been identified since May 2003. Currently only Canadian beef from young slaughtered cattle -- which are believed to pose the least risk -- can be exported to the United States.

PUBLIC HEALTH

Some 67 consumer, food safety, agricultural and other groups filed "friend of the court" documents supporting R-CALF and urged the appeals court to keep the U.S. border closed to Canadian cattle imports to protect public health.

R-CALF said on Tuesday the court was yet to rule on allowing the documents to be presented. If they are accepted the three-judge panel will review the documents.

Of the 12 regional federal courts only two -- the 9th District Court in San Francisco and the 2nd District Court in New York -- have a policy of considering media requests to broadcast.

While cameras are banned from trial courts amid fears they might have an adverse effect on witnesses and jurors, the rules are different for appeal courts -- which have neither witnesses nor jurors.

David Madden, assistant circuit executive for public affairs at the 9th Circuit, said cameras were regularly permitted for oral argument in civil appeals cases.

"If you recall the California governor recall election, when Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor after it -- that case was broadcast live out of our courthouse here in San Francisco. We do it particularly for very high profile cases where there's a lot of interest from the public."

The three judges for the appeals case have been named as U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Senior Judge A. Wallace Tashima and Senior Judge David R. Thompson.




http://www.reuters.ca/locales/c_newsArticle.jsp?type=topNews&localeKey=en_CA&storyID=8855392


TSS



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