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.
# # #
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.