The Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. on behalf of Tommy, Petitioners, v. Patrick C. Lavery, individually and as an officer of Circle L Trailer Sales, Inc., Diane Lavery, and Circle L Trailer Sales, Inc., Respondents

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Year Case Filed:  2013 Jurisdiction Level:  New York Drafting Attorney:  Elizabeth Stein and Steven M. Wise
Summary:

This set of pleadings is from the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP). The NhRP filed the first-ever lawsuit on behalf of captive chimpanzees in New York. The suit includes a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, demanding that the chimps be released from private captivity to a sanctuary that is part of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA). In 2014, the petitioners sought review at the New York Court of Appeals.

Documents:  pbusnynonhumanrights_petition_writ.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_trust.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_anderson_affidavit.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_baeckler_affidavit.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_boesch_affidavit.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_fugate_affidavit.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_jensvold_affidavit.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_king_affidavit.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_matsuzawa_affidavit.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_mcgrew_affidavit.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_osvath_affidavit.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_savage_affidavit.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_notice_motion_leave.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_coa_memo_law.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_affidavit_motion_leave.pdf pbusnynonhumanrights_affidavit_service_mail.pdf

About the Petitioner Nonhuman Rights Project:

This set of pleadings is from the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP). The NhRP filed the first-ever lawsuit on behalf of captive chimpanzees in New York in December 2013. The suit includes a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, demanding that the chimps be released from private captivity to a sanctuary that is part of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA).

The supporting affidavits offer support from scientists around the world that chimpanzees are self-aware and autonomous and should therefore be recognized as legal "persons."

About the plaintiffs, Nonhuman Rights Project:

The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is the first and only legal organization demanding that, based on scientific evidence, courts recognize the entitlement of certain nonhuman animals to such basic rights as bodily liberty and bodily integrity. Comprised of attorneys, legal experts and scientists, the Nonhuman Rights Project is focused on raising awareness and educating the public about rights for nonhuman animals. The organization uses the common law, not legislation, to gain legal rights for great apes, elephants and cetaceans (dolphins and whales).

To learn about the work of the NhRP, go to http://www.nonhumanrights.org/.  For more on this lawsuit, see the NhRP's Press Release at http://www.nonhumanrightsproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/NhRP-Press-Release-Dec-2-2013.pdf

2013 Case in Fulton, County New York

On December 2013 in Fulton County, New York, petitioners' application for an order to show cause to commence a CPLR article 70 proceeding (for writs of habeas corpus) was denied. The judge denied the writs on the grounds that chimpanzees are not legal persons. (See the NhRP press release at http://www.nonhumanrightsproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/NhRP-Press-Release-12-10-13.pdf).

2014 Appeal to the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, New York

In 2014, the NhRP sought review of the trial court's decision at the New York Court of Appeals. The brief in support to the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, New York is listed in the pdf documents below as "pbusnynonhumanrights_coa_memo_law.pdf." On December 4, 2014, the Court issued an opinion. People ex rel. Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Lavery, 2014 WL 6802767 (N.Y. App. Div. Dec. 4, 2014). This was an appeal from the Supreme Court judgment denying petitioner's application for an order to show cause to commence a CPLR article 70 proceeding. Petitioners filed a habeas corpus proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 70 on the ground that Tommy was being unlawfully detained by respondents. They offered support via affidavits of experts that chimpanzee have the requisite characteristics sufficient for a court to consider them "persons" to obtain personal autonomy and freedom from unlawful detention. The Court of Appeals considered the novel question of whether a chimpanzee is a legal person entitled to the rights and protections afforded by the writ of habeas corpus. In rejecting this designation, the Court relied on the fact that chimpanzees cannot bear any legal responsibilities or social duties. As such, the Court found it "inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights . . . that have been afforded to human beings."

 

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