NhRP Statement on Denial of Motion to Reargue in Connecticut Elephant Rights Case
On Tuesday, Judge James Bentivegna of the Connecticut Superior Court, Litchfield County denied the Nonhuman Rights Project’s motion to reargue our case on behalf of Beulah, Karen, and Minnie, three elephants held captive at a traveling circus based in Goshen, CT. The Judge also refused to allow us to amend our petition for a common law writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the three elephants—primarily, he said, because the basis of our petition was not constitutionally protected liberty, i.e. a liberty interest protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This may indeed be the kind of liberty that a convicted prisoner needs to invoke habeas corpus in the state of Connecticut. But it never has been the kind of liberty that individuals who are not convicted prisoners, such as our three elephant clients, need to prosecute a common law writ of habeas corpus under the law of Connecticut or anywhere else in the world.
We shall, of course, promptly appeal, and look forward to obtaining in the Connecticut appellate courts the justice and freedom to which Beulah, Karen, and Minnie, as autonomous, extraordinarily cognitively complex beings, are entitled under the Connecticut common law of habeas corpus.
CASE NO.: LLI-CV-17-5009822-S: NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT, INC. on behalf of BEULAH, MINNIE, AND KAREN, Petitioner, v. R.W. COMMERFORD & SONS, INC. a/k/a COMMERFORD ZOO, and WILLIAM R. COMMERFORD, as President of R.W. COMMERFORD & SONS, INC., Respondents.
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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, St. Thomas, and John Marshall Law Schools, and is currently teaching “Animal Rights Jurisprudence” at the Lewis and Clark Law School and Vermont 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.