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MEDIA ADVISORY FOR FEB. 1, 2019

Nonhuman Rights Project To Return to Albion Court in New York Elephant Rights Case

The New York Supreme Court, Orleans County will hear oral arguments on Friday, Feb. 1st at 11:30 a.m. ET in Albion, New York in a landmark elephant rights case filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) on behalf of a 47-year-old Asian elephant named Happy held alone in captivity at the Bronx Zoo.

WHAT: Oral arguments on a “Motion for Leave to Reargue” filed by the NhRP.

WHEN: Friday, Feb. 1st, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. ET. The Court will determine the duration of the arguments.

WHERE: Courthouse Square, 1 South Main Street, Suite 3, Albion, NY 14411

WHO: NhRP President Steven M. Wise (accompanied by NhRP attorney Elizabeth Stein and Spencer Lo) and opposing counsel for the Wildlife Conservation Society (which operates the Bronx Zoo), with Justice Tracey A. Bannister presiding.

WHY: The NhRP filed the Motion for Leave to Reargue after Justice Tracey A. Bannister—who presided over the world’s first habeas corpus hearing on behalf of an elephant on Dec. 14th, 2018—issued an order to transfer Happy’s case to Bronx County.

SIGNIFICANCE: The NhRP will argue that the Court arrived at its decision to grant the Transfer Order based on numerous misapprehensions of the law and facts. The NhRP will urge Justice Bannister to reverse her order and allow the case to proceed in Orleans County. As the NhRP details in its Memorandum of Law, “At stake in this proceeding is nothing less than the liberty of an imprisoned, autonomous being … An ordered change of venue only improperly frustrates the essential purpose of ‘the greatest of all writs.’”

CASE NO./NAME: 18-45164/“THE NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT, INC., on behalf of HAPPY, Petitioner, against JAMES J. BREHENY, in his official capacity as the Executive Vice President and General Director of Zoos and Aquariums of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Director of the Bronx Zoo, and WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY.

PRESS INFO: NhRP President Steven M. Wise, NhRP attorney Elizabeth Stein, and NhRP attorney Spencer Lo will be available for interviews before and after the hearing, which is open to the public and members of the media. All broadcast media and photographers must request access to the proceedings by submitting this form to Orleans County Supreme & County Court Chief Clerk Kristin Nicholson at knichols@nycourts.gov.

PRESS CONTACTS:
Karen Hinton
karen@karenhinton.com
703-798-3109

Lauren Choplin
lchoplin@nonhumanrights.org
856-381-9447

# # #

About the Nonhuman Rights Project

The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only civil rights organization in the United States working through litigation, legislation, and education to secure fundamental rights for nonhuman animals. For more information, visit www.nonhumanrightsproject.org.

The post NhRP To Return to Albion Court in New York Elephant Rights Case appeared first on Nonhuman Rights Project.

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NhRP Argues Judge Must Rule Promptly in Connecticut Elephant Rights Case

Jan. 28, 2019, Torrington, CT—Today NhRP President Steven M. Wise urged Litchfield Superior Court Judge Dan Shaban to rule on our elephant clients Beulah, Karen, and Minnie’s second habeas corpus petition, arguing that to delay hearing their case perpetuates the elephants’ suffering and undermines the important and long-standing immediate legal recourse of habeas corpus available to unlawfully imprisoned individuals.

With over two dozen local animal advocates in attendance and oral argument lasting 40 minutes as opposed to the 15 minutes initially allotted, Wise argued that Judge Shaban, in accordance with Connecticut habeas corpus procedure, should promptly rule on whether he will issue a writ of habeas corpus and hear the NhRP’s arguments as to why the elephants must be recognized as legal persons with the fundamental right to bodily liberty protected by the writ. Moreover, the Judge should not “stay” the case while the NhRP waits for the decision on our appeal of Connecticut Superior Judge James Bentivegna’s decision on our first petition, which itself never reached the merits (i.e. addressed the substantive issues) of their habeas corpus case.

The NhRP filed a second petition in order to prevent litigation of the elephants’ right to bodily liberty and entitlement to habeas corpus from becoming bogged down with procedural issues. In habeas corpus cases, where an individual’s freedom is at stake, the need to urgently address the substantive issues of the case is rightfully paramount.

As with our New York elephant client Happy, the NhRP argues that Beulah, Karen, and Minnie, once recognized as legal persons with the right to bodily liberty, must be ordered released from their unlawful imprisonment. The NhRP suggests their immediate transfer to the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary, where their right to bodily liberty will be respected for the first time since they were taken from their families and natural habitats decades ago. Currently, they are held at a traveling circus based in Goshen called the Commerford Zoo which forces them to perform at events across the Northeast.

The NhRP now awaits Judge Shaban’s decision and will share it as soon as it is issued.

On Saturday, Feb. 1st, the NhRP, in partnership with Change.org, will host a rally and vigil for the Commerford elephants.

For biographies of Beulah, Karen, and Minnie and a complete timeline of their court case, including links to all legal documents, visit their client page.

# # #

About the Nonhuman Rights Project
The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only civil rights organization in the United States working through litigation, legislation, and education to secure fundamental rights for nonhuman animals. For more information, visit www.nonhumanrightsproject.org.

The post NhRP Argues Judge Must Rule Promptly in Connecticut Elephant Rights Case appeared first on Nonhuman Rights Project.

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Following a status conference in Torrington, Connecticut on January 24th, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Dan Shaban has ordered oral argument on a Motion to Rule filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project regarding our Connecticut elephant clients’ second habeas corpus petition (see Beulah, Karen, and Minnie’s court case timeline for details). NhRP President Steven M. Wise will argue for the NhRP. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

WHAT: Oral argument on a Motion to Rule in Beulah, Karen, and Minnie’s second court case
WHEN: Monday, Jan. 28, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. ET (oral argument expected to last 15 minutes)
WHERE: Litchfield Judicial District Courthouse at Torrington, 50 Foster Street, 50 Field Street, Torrington, CT
WHY: The NhRP is urging the Court, in accordance with Connecticut habeas corpus procedure, to promptly rule on whether it will issue the NhRP’s requested Writ of Habeas Corpus “so that Beulah, Karen, and Minnie’s ongoing illegal detention may be addressed at last.” Additionally, the NhRP is asking the Court not to stay the case while the NhRP waits for decisions from either the Appellate Court or the Supreme Court on our appeal of Judge James Bentivegna’s 12/27/18 decision on the issue of standing regarding our first habeas corpus petition on behalf of Beulah, Karen, and Minnie (a “stay” order temporarily stops a judicial proceeding).

If you’re in the area, we hope to see you there and/or in Worcester, MA on Feb. 2nd for our Rally to Free the Commerford Elephants!

The post Oral Argument in Connecticut Elephant Rights Case appeared first on Nonhuman Rights Project.

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Join us as we rally for our elephant clients Beulah, Karen, and Minnie’s freedom!

The Commerford Zoo is once again starting its annual exhibition and exploitation of our elephant clients Beulah, Karen, and Minnie. On February 2nd at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA, where it’s expected to snow with below freezing temperatures, the zoo will bring the elephants and other nonhuman animals to serve as human entertainment at one of the many “kids fun fairs” it holds throughout the year. This will be the first time the elephants will be back in Massachusetts since their plight went viral in September after the Commerford Zoo forced them to give rides at the Big E fair.

During the rally, NhRP Executive Director Kevin Schneider and other staff will give updates on our litigation on behalf of Beulah, Karen, and Minnie and other efforts to obtain rights for autonomous nonhuman animals. We will also deliver our petition to the Commerford Zoo, which almost 250,000 people have signed, urging that they retire the elephants to sanctuary.

Following the rally we will hold a candlelight vigil in honor of Beulah, Minnie, and Karen. Artist Colleen Plumb will exhibit her acclaimed Thirty Times a Minute video projection installation, which shows dozens of captive elephants in zoos caught in unending cycles of stereotypic behavior and bearing the weight of an unnatural existence in their small enclosures.

View this post on Instagram

It was quite an honor to be invited to speak at the Performing Animals Welfare Society International Captive Wildlife conference in LA last weekend, speaking alongside the tireless brilliance from legal, science, and advocacy fields. Many thanks to Catherine Doyle. And hearing Ed Stewart from the PAWS Sanctuary was particularly moving. He and the late Pat Derby set in motion something so important that has grown: an understanding that animals are not for humans. And the @nonhuman.rights.project shifting how animals are viewed under the law: they are not mere ‘things’. Thirty Times a Minute project raises awareness about the plight of captive animals, entitled to recognition and protection of their fundamental rights. —————— The CA fires were/are scary and heartbreaking. My projection of #thirtytimesaminute in Joshua Tree was an utterly insufficient signal, sent out nonetheless, to all those needing some light. @psartmuseum @pawsark2000 @nonhumanlawyer @nonhuman.rights.project @bornfreefoundation @courtneymfern @sangita_iyer @pmlondon @hopeferdowsian @tonifrohoff @lauren.qqc #paulwaldeau #palmspringsartmuseum #joshuatree #elephants #rumbleforrights #pawssanctuary @radius.books @juliaccooke

A post shared by Colleen Plumb (@colleenplumb) on Nov 13, 2018 at 4:02pm PST

We will provide signs for attendees, but please feel free to bring your own. Please wear dark colors and remember that this is a peaceful and respectful demonstration. This is an event where we band together to advocate for the end of Beulah, Karen, and Minnie’s exploitation and their right to be freed from imprisonment.

RSVP here or email me at cfern@nonhumanrights.org. If you’re unable to attend, you can still help by sharing this post or the event page.

WHAT: Rally to Free the Commerford Elephants
WHEN: 1:00 pm – 3:00 p.m., candlelight vigil to follow at 4:30 p.m.
WHERE: DCU Center in Worcester, MA. We will meet on Major Taylor Boulevard in front of the center. Parking is widely available and locations can be found here.
WHY: Join the NhRP in raising awareness about the plight of Beulah, Karen, and Minnie and letting the Commerford Zoo know it’s time for the elephants to be sent to a sanctuary.

Thank you to everyone who has RSVPd so far. I hope to see you there!

View this post on Instagram

Please join us in Worcester, MA on February 2nd to #RumbleForRights and rally for the freedom of our elephant clients Beulah, Minnie, and Karen who are held captive and exploited by the Commerford Zoo. During the rally, we will give updates on our lawsuits and other efforts to obtain rights for autonomous nonhuman animals. Following the rally we'll hold a candlelight vigil in honor of Beulah, Minnie and Karen. During the vigil, artist @colleenplumb will exhibit her acclaimed Thirty Times a Minute video projection, which shows dozens of captive elephants in zoos caught in unending cycles of stereotypic behavior and bearing the weight of an unnatural existence in their small enclosures. Please click the link in our bio to learn more details about the event and how to sign up/share—we look forward to seeing you out there!

A post shared by Nonhuman Rights Project (@nonhuman.rights.project) on Jan 14, 2019 at 2:06pm PST

The post Rally to Free the Commerford Elephants appeared first on Nonhuman Rights Project.

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Ours is a legal fight many years in the making. But a lot can change for the better in a single year. We made it happen in 2018 and now we need your help to make it happen again in 2019! Below are some highlights of what we accomplished together in 2018. Support the NhRP today to help us continue our fight and secure justice for nonhuman animals in the year ahead.

Litigating the personhood and rights of elephants

We took on a new client: Happy, a 47-year-old Asian elephant who has lived alone in captivity on a small plot of land at the Bronx Zoo for many years. Two months after the NhRP sued on Happy’s behalf, she became the first elephant in the world to gain a habeas corpus hearing, which The Atlantic recently called “a unique moment to reflect on the status of animals and the law” in a newly published article about our mission and work. This article and another recent in-depth article in The Economist detail many of the victories we’ve achieved and the obstacles we’ve overcome since we filed our first suits in 2013.

“There is no doubt that [a chimpanzee] is not merely a thing”

One such victory was the opinion of New York Court of Appeals Judge Eugene Fahey in our chimpanzee rights cases on behalf of Tommy and Kiko. “To treat a chimpanzee as if he or she had no right to liberty protected by habeas corpus is to regard the chimpanzee as entirely lacking independent worth, as a mere resource for human use, a thing the value of which consists exclusively in its usefulness to others,” he wrote. “The issue whether a nonhuman animal has a fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus is profound and far-reaching … While it may be arguable that a chimpanzee is not a “person,” there is no doubt that it is not merely a thing.”

“It is common knowledge” that nonhuman animals can be persons

Just four weeks later, a New York intermediate appellate court wrote, “it is common knowledge” that nonhuman animals can be legal persons with rights, citing to a ruling in the NhRP’s case on behalf of Kiko. As with all our clients, we remain committed to freeing Tommy and Kiko from their imprisonment and are working on our next steps in this regard.

Peace, dignity, and autonomy for NhRP clients Hercules and Leo

At its core, our work is about changing the world for nonhuman animals who’ve endured great injustice at the hands of humans and human institutions. This year, the world changed for our chimpanzee clients Hercules and Leo, who are finally free from the New Iberia Research Center and Stony Brook University thanks in part to the litigation we brought on their behalf. The first nonhuman animals in the world to have had a habeas corpus hearing, Hercules and Leo are now living autonomous lives at Project Chimps sanctuary in Georgia.

Speaking out and fighting for the freedom of our Connecticut elephant clients

After a troubling photo of our Minnie giving rides at the Big E went viral, we talked to local media about their suffering as legal “things” with no rights and our ongoing litigation on their behalf. Their case now has the support of Connecticut’s foremost expert on legal ethics as well as esteemed philosophers and habeas corpus experts. We’re planning a rally and vigil for the Commerford elephants in Worcester, MA, on February when the Commerford Zoo will again transport them to a stadium to give rides and take photos. If you’re in the area, we’d love for you to join us in calling for the Commerford Zoo to release them to a sanctuary—as we’re also doing in our online petition, which almost 200,000 people have signed since it went live in November.

Nonhuman rights legislation

Over the last several months, we’ve been hard at work getting ready to launch the world’s first nonhuman rights ordinance. We can’t disclose the city until the day the ordinance is introduced but we’ll definitely need your help when this happens! As with our litigation, our legislation has been carefully thought out and planned so as to have the best chance of success in securing rights for the designated species. Stay tuned!

Continuing to connect with nonhuman rights advocates the world over

This year, the NhRP met with local activists, lawyers, and judges in Israel, India (which is already recognizing that nonhuman animals have legal rights), Hong Kong, and Malaysia to discuss how best to work together to secure legal rights for animals. At the same time, NhRP legal working groups all over the world continued to plan their next steps with assistance from the NhRP legal team and our International Coordinator. Nonhuman animals’ lack of rights is truly a global problem and ours is a global struggle. None of it will be easy, but we cannot continue to treat all nonhuman animals as “things” with no rights: for their sake and ours.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us this year and beyond. We couldn’t do any of this work without you.

Please consider making a year-end gift today. The speed and extent with which we secure legal rights for nonhuman animals in 2019 is in your hands.

Happy New Year from all of us at the NhRP, and here’s to continuing to build a more just world for all in 2019!

The post Happy New Year from the NhRP! appeared first on Nonhuman Rights Project.

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Nonhuman Rights Project Argues for Elephant Personhood, Rights in New York Supreme Court

~ The habeas corpus hearing is the first time a US court has heard oral arguments on an elephant’s legal personhood and right to bodily liberty ~

Dec. 14, 2018—Albion, NY—The New York Supreme Court, Orleans County heard oral arguments today in a landmark elephant rights case brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) on behalf of a 47-year-old Asian elephant named Happy held alone in captivity at the Bronx Zoo. The proceeding was the world’s first habeas corpus hearing on behalf of an elephant and the second habeas corpus hearing on behalf of a nonhuman animal in the US, both of which were secured by the NhRP.

In a 20-minute opening statement before Justice Tracey A. Bannister, Steven M. Wise, the lead attorney for and president of the NhRP, argued that Happy, as an autonomous being, is a legal person with the fundamental right to bodily liberty protected by a common law writ of habeas corpus.

Nodding as Wise spoke, Justice Bannister listened carefully as Wise detailed some of what the NhRP laid out in its Reply Memorandum of Law (filed on Dec. 11th). Nonhuman animal personhood, i.e. nonhuman animals’ capacity to bear at least one legal right, is consistent with over two centuries of New York law, Wise said. New York’s pet trust statute implicitly recognizes companion animals as legal persons with the capacity to be the beneficiary of a trust, and the New York courts, including a judge on New York’s highest court, have recently embraced nonhuman legal personhood as “common knowledge” and “a deep dilemma of ethics and policy that demands our attention.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the Bronx Zoo and was represented in the proceedings by Phillips Lytle LLP, argued in its opening statement that the NhRP had not properly alleged violations of an animal welfare statute, that the Zoo had no intention of transferring Happy, and that the case should be heard in Bronx County, the location of the Bronx Zoo.

In a rebuttal, Wise said that by issuing the NhRP’s requested Order to Show Cause, Justice Bannister had already ruled that the venue in which the NhRP filed suit was proper and that she had already had the opportunity to change the venue when she had made the filings returnable to Orleans County. The NhRP makes clear in its court filings that, according to New York habeas corpus procedure, the NhRP could file in any county in New York regardless of where the imprisoned person is located and that the NhRP filed suit in Orleans County because the Fourth Judicial Department of which that Court is a part had correctly rejected tying legal personhood to being human.

Saying that she had “always enjoyed elephants,” Justice Bannister ended the hearing by indicating that she would likely grant the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Motion to have the case heard in Bronx County. The NhRP awaits the actual order and will determine its next steps after it has an opportunity to review it. The NhRP’s options include having the case heard in Bronx County, seeking to have Happy’s case heard in another County, and/or appealing the decision to the Fourth Department appellate court in Rochester.

“We will have to wait to be certain what Judge Bannister has decided to do concerning venue,” said NhRP attorney Elizabeth Stein after the hearing, “but the NhRP appreciates Justice Bannister’s careful and respectful hearing of our arguments and we look forward to deciding our next steps to secure Happy’s release.”

In November, Justice Bannister issued the NhRP’s requested “Order to Show Cause” pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus. With support from world-renowned elephant experts, including Joyce Poole, Cynthia Moss, Lucy Bates, Richard Byrne, and Karen McComb, the NhRP filed a habeas corpus petition in October seeking Happy’s immediate release from her imprisonment and her transfer to an elephant sanctuary where she can meaningfully exercise her autonomy to the greatest extent possible, including having the opportunity to live and interact with other elephants.

“The Bronx Zoo imprisons Happy in a tiny, cold, lonely, un-elephant-friendly, and unnatural place that ignores her autonomy as well as her social, emotional, and bodily liberty needs,” the NhRP writes in its Memorandum of Law, “while daily inflicting further injury upon her that would be remedied by transferring her to any American elephant sanctuary.”

Happy is the NhRP’s fourth elephant client. Learn more about her case and read our court filings here, including a second supplemental affidavit filed by elephant expert Joyce Poole. To request an interview with NhRP President Steven M. Wise, email NhRP Communications Director Lauren Choplin at lchoplin@nonhumanrights.org. 

CASE NO./NAME: 18-45164/“THE NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT, INC., on behalf of HAPPY, Petitioner, against JAMES J. BREHENY, in his official capacity as the Executive Vice President and General Director of Zoos and Aquariums of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Director of the Bronx Zoo, and WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY.

Media Contacts:

Karen Hinton
703-798-3109
karen@karenhinton.com

Lauren Choplin
856-381-9447
lchoplin@nonhumanrights.org

# # # #

About the Nonhuman Rights Project: Founded in 1996 by attorney Steven M. Wise, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) works to secure fundamental rights for nonhuman animals through litigation, legislation, and education. 

The post Nonhuman Rights Project Argues for Elephant Personhood, Rights in New York Supreme Court appeared first on Nonhuman Rights Project.

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Tomorrow in Albion, New York, a court is set to hear arguments on an elephant’s legal personhood and fundamental right to bodily liberty in the world’s first habeas corpus hearing on behalf of an elephant.

With support from world-renowned elephant experts such as Joyce Poole and Cynthia Moss who have spent their careers observing elephants living freely in their natural habitats, we argue Happy’s imprisonment at the Bronx Zoo is unlawful and deprives her of her ability to exercise her autonomy in meaningful ways, including the freedom to choose where to go, what to do, and with whom to be.

Show your support for Happy’s release from imprisonment and transfer to an elephant sanctuary by sharing this image on your social media accounts and using the hashtag #IStandWithHappy:

Also join us on Twitter @NonhumanRights for live updates with the hashtag #HappyHearing and on this Facebook event page where you can leave an #IStandWithHappy message of support for Happy. We’ll be posting to the event page throughout the day.

Happy deserves the opportunity to experience the freedom of a sanctuary, including the opportunity to meaningfully interact with other elephants. Learn more about her life and court case here. To support the work of the NhRP, please visit this page.

Thank you for standing with Happy and the NhRP.

The post Show Your Support For Our Elephant Client Happy appeared first on Nonhuman Rights Project.

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Today marks Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations to acknowledge the importance of respect for the freedom, equality, and dignity of each individual regardless of “race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.” It is also International Animal Rights Day, launched on the same date to emphasize that we must extend these values and principles to other species if they are to be taken seriously.

As a human rights physician and a civil rights attorney for nonhuman animals, respectively, we believe we will advance and uphold human rights only if we practice the moral and legal consistency required. This must mean recognizing the rights of at least some nonhuman animals.

During the course of our work in human and nonhuman animal rights, we have seen what happens when we do not reliably respect the freedom, equality, and dignity of each individual. Families fleeing violence tear-gassed at the US border. Mass incarceration. Survivors of sexual violence struggling to find the support they need to heal and secure justice. Journalists murdered for speaking out against corruption. And we are regularly reminded that we cannot divorce the suffering exacted on humans caught in an unjust system from the sight of orcas in tanks, chimpanzees in labs, or elephants in chains. Nowhere is this more apparent than in court proceedings where the vulnerable are made more so by their lack of voice and political power, forced to live at the mercy of others in a world where their rights have gone unrecognized or unfulfilled.

To some, it may seem flippant, given current threats to human dignity, to argue that we need to examine how our legal systems treat animals. But this reaction fails to see a fundamental connection: the way we treat any living being affects how we treat another.

We have come a long way since the days of Descartes, who popularized the idea that animals were mere machines. We now know that many animals are autonomous beings with powers of deliberation, imagination, intelligence, empathy, love, and other cognitively complex qualities. When deprived of their physiological, cognitive, and social needs, they also suffer like us, whether from pain or mental disorders such as posttraumatic stress and depression. Given all we know about other animals, we should be further along in our respect for their dignity. But the same problem that plagues marginalized humans—prejudice and disregard for their dignity and suffering—plagues animals as well.

This prejudice is used to rationalize treating animals as rightless “things,” invisible to law. At the same time, human rights remain on shaky ground. We can explain our failure to advance the recognition and enforcement of human rights at least in part by our failure to be legally, scientifically, and morally consistent in terms of who counts under the law. We are merely asking for what ASPCA founder Henry Bergh famously and successfully demanded for a human child, Mary Ellen, in 1874, drawing upon animal protection legislation he had secured several years prior: freedom from confinement, a dignified existence, and justice.

Thankfully, progress is beginning to be made. For example, in May of 2018, a judge on New York’s highest court wrote in the Nonhuman Rights Project’s chimpanzee rights cases that “the issue whether a nonhuman animal has a fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus is profound and far-reaching. It speaks to our relationship with all the life around us. Ultimately, we will not be able to ignore it. While it may be arguable that a chimpanzee is not a ‘person,’ there is no doubt that it is not merely a thing.”

On Dec. 14th, the NhRP will again have the opportunity to argue for the rights of an autonomous animal during a habeas corpus hearing to determine whether the NhRP’s elephant client Happy should be released from her imprisonment at the Bronx Zoo. It is the first such hearing for an elephant.

Far from threatening human rights, consideration of nonhuman animal rights pushes us to look more closely at and maintain the integrity of laws governing the treatment of our fellow human beings. As Martin Luther King, Jr. noted, “Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.” The biased and unjust undermining of the rationale for the fundamental rights of nonhuman animals will inevitably severely undermine the rationale for fundamental human rights.

At a time when fundamental rights and principles like liberty and justice are under attack, we cannot succumb to fear and anxiety. We must be bold, push forward, and demand that principles such as liberty, equality and justice be upheld and expanded in a way that is both morally and legally consistent. Society must, at last, fully embrace these principles.

The post Now More Than Ever, We Must Support and Advance Human—and Nonhuman—Rights appeared first on Nonhuman Rights Project.

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Nonhuman Rights Project Seeks Transfer of Connecticut Elephant Rights Case to State’s Highest Court

Dec. 3, 2018, Hartford, CT—The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) has filed a Motion in the Supreme Court of Connecticut seeking transfer to that court of its appeal on behalf of NhRP elephant clients Beulah, Karen, and Minnie.

“The issues raised by Beulah, Karen, and Minnie’s case are novel ones that warrant a decision at the highest judicial level as quickly as possible,” said the NhRP’s founder and president, Steven M. Wise.

As detailed in the NhRP’s Motion to Transfer, the NhRP asks the Court to grant its motion because “the appeal involves novel issues of first impression that are of widespread legal and social significance that go beyond the circumstances of the present case … This appeal concerns pure questions of law regarding the fundamental and time-honored writ of habeas corpus. No facts are in dispute. Immediate review by this Court is warranted, as the Trial Court’s ruling has sweeping consequences for habeas corpus petitioners throughout the State.”

In November, experts in habeas corpus, philosophy, and legal ethics, including Laurence H. Tribe (Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School) and Mark Dubois (former President of the Connecticut Bar Association, Connecticut’s first Chief Disciplinary Counsel, and expert in the field of legal ethics and professional responsibility) filed “friend of the court” briefs in which they urged The Appellate Court to allow Beulah, Karen, and Minnie’s case to proceed.

The NhRP is currently preparing for a Dec. 14th habeas corpus hearing in New York to determine whether its fourth elephant client, Happy, should be released from her imprisonment at the Bronx Zoo. On Nov. 19th, the Hon. Tracey A. Bannister of the Orleans County Supreme Court issued an Order to Show Cause pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus in Happy’s case. It is the world’s first habeas corpus order on behalf of an elephant and the second such order the NhRP has secured in New York on behalf of a nonhuman animal.

In both the New York and Connecticut cases, the NhRP is seeking the elephants’ immediate release from their imprisonment. If they are ordered released, the NhRP will urge the Courts to order their transfer to an elephant sanctuary where they can meaningfully exercise their autonomy to the greatest extent possible, including having the opportunity to live and interact with other elephants.

For biographies of Beulah, Karen, and Minnie and a complete timeline of their court case, including links to all legal documents, visit their client page.

Case No./Name: A.C. 41464 NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT, INC., on behalf of BEULAH, MINNIE, and KAREN v. R.W. COMMERFORD & SONS, INC. a/k/a COMMERFORD ZOO, and WILLIAM R. COMMERFORD, as President of R.W. COMMERFORD & SONS, INC.

Media Contact:
Lauren Choplin
856-381-9447
lchoplin@nonhumanrights.org

# # #

About the Nonhuman Rights Project
Founded in 1996 by attorney Steven M. Wise, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) works to secure legally recognized fundamental rights for nonhuman animals through litigation, advocacy, and education. Our mission is to change the legal status of at least some nonhuman animals from mere “things,” which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to “persons,” who possess such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty and those other legal rights to which evolving standards of morality, scientific discovery, and human experience entitle them. Our current plaintiffs are members of species who have been scientifically proven to be autonomous: currently, great apes, elephants, dolphins, and whales. We are working with teams of attorneys on four continents to develop campaigns to achieve legal rights for nonhuman animals that are suited to the legal systems of these countries. We filed our first cases in December of 2013, and our work is the subject of the 2016 Pennebaker Hegedus/HBO documentary film Unlocking the Cage, which has been seen by millions around the world.

About NhRP President Steven M. Wise
Steven M. Wise began his mission to gain rights for nonhuman animals in 1985. He holds a J.D. from Boston University Law School and a B.S. in chemistry from the College of William and Mary. He has practiced animal protection law for four decades and is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. Professor Wise taught the first class in “Animal Rights Law” at the Harvard Law School and has taught “Animal Rights Jurisprudence” at the Stanford Law School, as well as the University of Miami, Vermont Law School, St. Thomas, and John Marshall Law Schools, and is currently teaching “Animal Rights Jurisprudence” at the Lewis and Clark Law School. He is the author of four books: Rattling the Cage – Toward Legal Rights for Animals; Drawing the Line – Science and the Case for Animal Rights; Though the Heavens May Fall – The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery; and An American Trilogy – Death, Slavery, and Dominion Along the Banks of the Cape Fear River. His TED Talk from the TED2015 Conference in Vancouver, Canada was released in May of 2015 and has over one million views.

The post NhRP Seeks Transfer of Connecticut Elephant Rights Case to State’s Highest Court appeared first on Nonhuman Rights Project.

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