SPCA chief answers web flap

Matthew Tully responds to online comments alleging conflict between law practice, SPCA

Reader comments on the spotlightnews.com story "SPCA officers need a lift" sparked a debate over whether attorney Matthew Tully's involvement with the SPCA is a conflict of interest. Tully, however, said such a conflict does not exist, and he has never defended someone who has been charged with animal cruelty.

More than 50 posts appeared after one commenter said Tully, chief of the Schenectady County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and founder of Tully Rinckey PLLC, had allegedly encouraged animal abusers to buy his firm's legal services on its website.

"There is no conflict of interest and I personally have never taken an animal cruelty case and I never will, but I am not going to make a blanket statement for Tully Rinckey, because Tully Rinckey is a separate entity than the SPCA," said Tully.

If one of his law partners did decide to take on defending a person accused of animal cruelty, he said it would be a case that was out of SPCA's coverage area.

"If one of my law partners wants to take an animal cruelty case in Rensselaer County, which the SPCA has no jurisdiction with, I am not going to interfere in that other than discourage it, but a full-time job at Tully Rinckey can't interfere with my volunteer work and vise versa," said Tully. "The SPCA is a law enforcement agency, and we make sure that personal agendas don't interfere in law enforcement missions."

At issue was a section of the Tully Rinckey website that has since been removed that said animal abuse cases can get a "great amount of public attention" due to the nature of the case. Information on the page indicated an animal defense attorney could help represent such a case in court. Further down, the webpage stated, "At Tully Rinckey, we have defended numerous animal abuse cases. The best defense is an experienced legal team, and we have the experience that counts."

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