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Laurence H. Tribe Submits Amicus Brief in Support of the NhRP

By Lauren Choplin

The Nonhuman Rights Project issued the following press release this afternoon:


Harvard Law Professor Laurence H. Tribe Submits Amicus Curiae “Letter-Brief” in Support of The Nonhuman Rights Project

May 19, 2015, New York, NY—This week noted legal scholar Laurence H. Tribe submitted an amicus curiae “letter-brief” in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s (NhRP) request that the Court of Appeals of New York review the refusal of lower courts to issue an Order to Show Cause in Tommy the Chimpanzee’s case.

In his “letter-brief,” Professor Tribe states that “the lower court fundamentally misunderstood the purpose of the common law writ of habeas corpus” and “reached its conclusion on the basis of a fundamentally flawed definition of legal personhood.”

This is not the first amicus curiae brief that has been filed in support of Tommy’s case. University of Denver Law professor and habeas corpus scholar, Justin Marceau, has also filed a “letter-brief” with the Court of Appeals” on behalf of a group of habeas corpus scholars he is bringing together in which he states that “this may be one of the most important habeas corpus issues in decades and the lower court’s resolution of the matter is in fundamental tension with core tenets of the historical writ of habeas corpus.”

Following a December 4, 2014, decision by the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department that declared that Tommy is not a “person” entitled to a common law writ of habeas corpus because he is unable to bear duties or responsibilities, the Nonhuman Rights Project filed a Motion for Leave to Appeal to the Court of Appeals.

No action on the amicus curiae “letter-briefs” is expected until and unless the NhRP’s motion for leave to appeal is granted.

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