Justice for Animals: PETA’s Chief Lawyer Nabs UVA Law Award

Jeff Kerr's 'Extraordinary Achievement' Includes the Now-Settled 'Monkey Selfie' Case, Defeated 'Ag-Gag' Laws, and More

For Immediate Release:
February 1, 2018

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Charlottesville, Va. – At the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Law’s second annual Shaping Justice conference on Saturday, UVA Law alumnus and PETA Foundation General Counsel Jeff Kerr will receive the Shaping Justice Award for Extraordinary Achievement.

“Over the last 25 years, Jeff Kerr has been a pioneer and leader in the struggle for achieving fundamental civil rights for animals,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “From defeating unconstitutional ‘ag-gag’ laws to proposing that orcas should be considered ‘persons’ and more, Jeff is responsible for some of PETA’s biggest triumphs and the expansion of justice for animals around the world.”

In just the last year, Kerr’s legal team settled the headline-grabbing “monkey selfie” case, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed down after years of legal complaints from PETA over its abuse of elephants, and the legal team secured the release of more than 60 bears and eight chimpanzees from dilapidated backyard collections and ramshackle roadside zoos. Corporate Counsel magazine named PETA’s team one of the best legal departments of 2017, and Kerr was recognized as a Trending 40 Corporate Counsel in Washington, D.C.

Kerr, a longtime Virginia resident, became general counsel for PETA—whose motto reads, “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way”—in 1994. Since then, his team has set more legal precedents for animals than any other, including the first defeat of an “ag-gag” law, the first convictions for “crush” videos (fetish videos in which women crush small animals to death), the first case seeking constitutional protections for orcas enslaved at SeaWorld, the first convictions of meat-industry workers for cruelty to animals, and the largest seizure of animals in U.S. history from a reptile and exotic-animal dealer.

Interviews with Kerr are available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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Media Response Team.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind