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Meet the Attorney Who’ll Argue Happy’s Historic Elephant Rights Case

By Lauren Choplin

As we were pleased to have announced recently, we’re expanding the roster of lawyers who’ll argue our unique nonhuman animal rights cases; in the words of NhRP President Steven M. Wise, this expansion “will allow us to file more cases on behalf of more nonhuman animals in more jurisdictions and demonstrate even more powerfully how talented our team is. This will also allow me to devote much more time to what has been a fundamental aspect of our work from the beginning: educating diverse audiences, including the next generation of lawyers, about the urgent need and basis for nonhuman rights and talking to all sorts of folks, all over the world, who want to join us in this fight.”

A photo of a white woman with long dark hair and glasses dressed in professional attire
Monica Miller has been an attorney with the NhRP for over a decade.

Appearing before New York’s highest court in Happy’s historic hearing on May 18th will be Monica Miller–a highly experienced lawyer who has been with the NhRP since our founding and served as lead counsel in over 30 federal cases, including before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the American Humanist AssociationMonica is one of the youngest women to argue before the Supreme Court, and PBS has listed Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s dissent in a separation-of-church-and-state case Monica argued as one of her five most powerful Supreme Court opinions.

Monica’s careful and rigorous work has been instrumental to every lawsuit we file. In her decade with the NhRP, she’s conducted extensive legal research, drafted habeas corpus petitions and legal memoranda, and helped lead the long, meticulous process of selecting New York as the state in which we’d begin our global fight for the legal rights of nonhuman animals–to name only a few of Monica’s vital contributions to the tremendous progress we’ve made.

Please join us on Thursday, May 12th at 1 p.m. ET for a special Zoom webinar with Monica! She’ll discuss Happy’s historic case and how we’re preparing for arguments. She’ll also take questions from viewers. Register here

A member of the California State Bar and the United States Supreme Court Bar, Monica is also admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits, and the United States District Courts for Central California, Colorado, and the Northern District of Florida.

Up to this point in our organizational history, NhRP President Steven M. Wise has argued all our cases (in other words, he’s the person who’s come before the judges in court, which is itself the culmination of thousands of hours the legal team as a whole spends on preparation). We’re thrilled Monica is now taking the lead on this aspect of Happy’s case.

Monica says of this juncture in our legal fight to #FreeHappy and secure legal rights for nonhuman animals: “We’ve made it to the highest court of a state, and not just any state, but a state we identified early on as having incredible potential to extend the common law right of bodily liberty to nonhuman animals. This is the first time in the decade since we filed our first habeas petition that I see a full victory on the horizon. In many ways, we’ve already won a victory for elephants.”

If you have any questions for Monica, please feel free to email us ahead of time at You can also ask them live via the Zoom chat window during the seminar. This seminar will be recorded and posted to our YouTube channel for you to rewatch and share afterwards.

Thank you for your support for elephants’ right to liberty!

Join us on May 18th for a Historic Hearing and Rally in Happy’s Elephant Rights Case. Find all the latest on the fight for Happy’s freedom and ways to take action on our #FreeHappy campaign page.

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