Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Dillard’s dog, Irish, may not hunt. But she sure can tweet.
When Dillard recently Twitter-shamed Irish after she returned dirty and damp from a creek romp, it wasn’t just human legal beagles that jumped to her defense.
Irish found her own voice and started her own Twitter feed.
Dillard—who has amassed more than 8,400 followers on Twitter—had captioned a photo of a bedraggled, hang-dog Irish: “This dog is guilty of escaping from the backyard and playing in the creek.”
The legal Twitterverse, notably #appellatetwitter followers, jumped to Irish’s defense, arguing for a probated sentence, pretrial diversion, counseling, or a dismissal given that “dogs should have recourse for false imprisonment near an attractive nuisance.”
This dog is guilty of escaping from the backyard and playing in the creek. pic.twitter.com/z8zo5WCzNr
— Judge Dillard (@JudgeDillard) January 30, 2017
JudgeDillard’sDog (@JudgDillardDog), aka Irish, replied: “I’m innocent! Chased away a burglar and then followed him down to the creek to help authorities. Need a lawyer quick!”
It was Irish’s Twitter debut. And suddenly, instead of Irish being in Dillard’s doghouse, the appellate court judge was now in hers.
Irish quickly developed a witty repartee with Dillard and his followers. On Feb. 3, Dillard tweeted at Irish, asking for an assurance that, if she was let out into the yard, she wouldn’t go down to the creek.
Direct Contempt! You have been warned repeatedly: Stay off the "good" furniture! pic.twitter.com/hRz8aCVorD
— Eva Guzman (@JusticeGuzman) February 11, 2017
Irish would not roll over. She replied: “I did not agree to stay within the confines of the prison yard; I was out on a writ habeas corpus.”
When one legal wag rejoined: “It’s habeas sportus for dogs—‘let him have the fun.’ Routinely self-granted,” Irish replied, “Either way I should be free! Plus, my Latin isn’t very good. The translation always comes back as woof!”
Since then, Irish has garnered 55 followers, including Dillard and Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeff Brown. She has replied to tweets by Texas Supreme Court Justice master tweeter Don Willett and to Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman with a robust defense of Guzman’s own dog, held in contempt by the justice for sleeping on the couch.
I'll take your Motion for Rehearing under advisement. https://t.co/JMTBSSz4w2
— Eva Guzman (@JusticeGuzman) February 11, 2017
Irish argued a separation of powers question. “You wrote the law and shouldn’t enforce and interpret it,” JudgeDillard’sDog barked. Doggedly pursuing the issue, JudgeDillard’sDog followed up with a declaratory judgment after Guzman withdrew her contempt finding: “A major victory for justice. I’ll be moving for my doggie fees, payable in treats.”
Irish also has weighed in on the use of an Oxford comma in legal opinions and briefs. Well, sort of. “Instead of concerns about an Oxford comma (?!?) or spaces after a period (also ?!?) does anyone wonder whether I went creekin’?” Irish tweeted.
Dillard follows JudgeDillard’sDog Twitter feed and regularly “likes” the commentary. But anyone who thinks Dillard set up the account or masquerades as Irish—a 13-year-old golden retriever-chow-lab mix—is barking up the wrong tree.
“I think it’s hilarious,” Dillard said by interview via Twitter with the Daily Report. “Irish has quite the fan base on Twitter. I frequently mention that she’s a rescue dog and encourage others to consider adopting a dog in need of a forever home.”
Irish, he said, loves napping, begging for food, turning over trash cans, snuggling with his children and escaping from the Dillard backyard to play in the creek. She also is partial to his undergraduate alma mater, the Samford University Bulldogs. As for “yellow dog Democrats” who would vote for the proverbial yellow dog if it were on the Democratic ticket, Dillard said: “Like her owner, Irish stays away from partisan politics.”
The judge also said he was “absolutely” surprised when Irish began tweeting. “She’s a character,” he said.
For her part, Irish replied to a Savannah trial lawyer’s tweet earlier this month that she had been thinking about her own Twitter account for a while and “after dedicated ‘obedience’ training mastered it!” In response to tweets from the Daily Report, Irish seemed amenable to an interview but cautioned, “I’m a dog (without thumbs), so holding the phone is ruff.”
In a Twitter interview, JudgeDillard’sDog said she would love to build as big an audience as Dillard or Texas’s Willett, who has garnered nearly 79,000 followers. “But my legal knowledge is probably not as interesting to #appellatetwitter as theirs. I do, however, pick up a bunch of “table scraps” of the law from Judge Dillard.”
Meanwhile, JudgeDillard’sDog will continue to “sit and stay” on social media as a pro bono advocate for dogs being convicted on Twitter without representation. “I’m hoping that it pays off in treats!”