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Judge denies equine civil case hearing

BROWN COUNTY — A request for an evidentiary hearing was denied in a Brown County District Court civil case involving the voluntary surrender of horses, donkeys and a pony at a rural Sleepy Eye farm on Nov. 23.

Judge Robert A. Docherty denied Mankato attorney James J. Kuettner’s evidentiary hearing request in an order filed Jan.19.

The matter came to civil court Dec. 9, 2020 when Brown County authorities argued that Candi Lemarr, 43, 26731 315th Avenue, Sleepy Eye, lacked standing to pursue her claim, having voluntarily relinquished seven horses, three donkeys, and a pony in question.

The purpose and circumstance for releasing the animals was that they were malnourished, undernourished and there was a lack of adequate feed.

Lemarr argued that her animals were fed twice a day.

Lemarr contended the relinquishment was involuntary, and the Court ordered a hearing on that issue only, according to the findings of fact and conclusions of law & order filed Jan. 19.

The Testimony of Lemarr, her therapist, and Brown County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jeremy Reed was heard in the case. Exhibits received included body camera videos from Nov. 23, 2020 when the animals were surrendered at Lemarr’s farm.

Docherty wrote in his conclusions of law that the actions of Investigator Reed did not amount to duress, which was defined as “coercion by means of physical force or unlawful threats which destroys the victim’s free will and compels them to comply with some demand of the party exerting the coercion.”

Docherty added that Lemarr had the option of allowing the animals to be removed involuntarily and demanding a court hearing.

“There is no indication that (Lemarr) was suffering from dissociation during her contact with Investigator Reed; she spoke clearly and lucidly and asked relevant questions,” Docherty wrote. “(Lemarr) was allowed to consult with her son and was free to leave the property and did so. Contrary to her testimony that Reed isolated her in his vehicle, her son spoke to her through an open window. (Lemarr) volunteered to allow Mini-Bit (a pony) and three donkeys to be taken.”

Docherty wrote that Lemarr discussed with Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Nancy Peterson, which animals could go and which she would keep; her decisions were rationally focused on keeping the animals that would allow her to continue to offer riding lessons; and releasing the animals that were not income producers.

There are no further motions or hearings scheduled for the case at this time, according to Brown County Court Administration.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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