New York, NY – The Nonhuman Rights Project legal team met for two days in Manhattan on March 3rd and 4th to discuss the upcoming habeas corpus lawsuit the NhRP is planning to file later this year on behalf of captive elephants in a new state to be named when the suit is filed. This will be the first habeas corpus petition on behalf of an elephant. As we did with our chimpanzee cases in New York, we are asking the court to recognize that elephants are “persons” for purposes of common law habeas corpus and are therefore entitled to the bodily liberty and self-determination that the writ protects. For these elephants, this means immediate release to sanctuary to live out their lives with some semblance of normalcy and freedom in the outdoors.
Among the legal topics discussed at our meeting were standing (the ability of NhRP to bring a petition on behalf of elephants), the common law of habeas corpus, liberty, and equality in the state, and the facts and evidence establishing that elephants are autonomous, self-determining beings entitled to the protections guaranteed by the common law writ of habeas corpus.
In attendance were NhRP President Steven M. Wise, Executive Director Kevin Schneider, staff attorneys Monica Miller and Sarah Stone, and volunteer attorneys Elizabeth Stein and David Ebert. The team met for 10+ hours on each of the two days. This was the first in-person NhRP meeting for volunteer attorney David Ebert, who is a partner in his Manhattan law firm and has practiced commercial litigation for 30 years. He said about the NhRP legal team that it is the “happiest, huggiest, and nicest team of supremely talented lawyers I ever did see.” We were also joined for some of the meeting by science journalist Brandon Keim, who has written extensively about our chimpanzee cases for Wired magazine and other publications.
Steve and Kevin also attended World Wildlife Day at the United Nations in New York on March 3rd, where the theme of the discussion was focused on combating wildlife trafficking, with a particular focus on elephants in this, the “Year of the Elephant.” There were many excellent organizations and delegates in attendance, as well as several high-profile celebrities and politicians. The NhRP is in the early stages of building a multi-partner coalition with these groups and others to advance the idea of nonhuman personhood and genuine rights, in the US and beyond.