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VIDEO: Hearing in Connecticut Elephant Rights Case

By Steven Wise

On April 22nd in a packed courtroom before a panel of three judges of The Appellate Court of Connecticut on behalf of the NhRP and our three elephant clients, Beulah, Karen, and Minnie, I argued that the lower court’s dismissal of the NhRP’s first petition for habeas corpus on behalf of the elephants had been wrong.

I began by telling the Court that the NhRP’s elephant rights case marked the first time in 350 years that a Connecticut court has dismissed a habeas corpus petition because the petitioner was assumed to lack a relationship with the individual whom the petitioner sought to free from unlawful imprisonment. The judges were quite interested in the case and extended the oral argument to over twice the time originally allotted, from 20 to 40 minutes, then again to 50 minutes, while asking questions that ranged going beyond the issues on appeal—standing and frivolity—to the ultimate issues at stake in the case: whether the elephants, as autonomous beings, are legal persons entitled to habeas corpus relief.

You can watch the oral argument here:

We will post the Appellate Court’s decision as soon as we have it. At this stage, we are asking the Court to allow us the opportunity to make our arguments in the lower court; this would take the form of the Appellate Court reversing the Superior Court’s erroneous decision and remanding with instructions for that Court to issue the writ of habeas corpus and proceed according to the Connecticut Practice Book, which outlines habeas corpus procedure.

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