CHIMPANZEES NOT ENTITLED TO HABEAS CORPUS RELIEF.
The First Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Webber, determined two chimpanzees. Tommy and Kiko, were not entitled to orders transferring them from cages to a sanctuary, using the rationale behind habeas corpus. The main reason underlying the decision is the fact that similar requests for relief had been denied by other courts and nothing new was presented in support of the instant requests for relief. The court, however, did run through the arguments in support of the applicability of habeas corpus criteria in this context (not all of which are summarized here):
“The common law writ of habeas corpus, as codified by CPLR article 70, provides a summary procedure by which a person’ who has been illegally imprisoned or otherwise restrained in his or her liberty can challenge the legality of the detention” … . While the word “person” is not defined in the statute, there is no support for the conclusion that the definition includes nonhumans, i.e., chimpanzees. While petitioner’s cited studies attest to the intelligence and social capabilities of chimpanzees, petitioner does not cite any sources indicating that the United States or New York Constitutions were intended to protect nonhuman animals’ rights to liberty, or that the Legislature intended the term “person” in CPLR article 70 to expand the availability of habeas protection beyond humans. No precedent exists, under New York law, or English common law, for a finding that a chimpanzee could be considered a “person” and entitled to habeas relief. In fact, habeas relief has never been found applicable to any animal… .
The asserted cognitive and linguistic capabilities of chimpanzees do not translate to a chimpanzee’s capacity or ability, like humans, to bear legal duties, or to be held legally accountable for their actions. Petitioner does not suggest that any chimpanzee charged with a crime in New York could be deemed fit to proceed, i.e., to have the “capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense” (CPL 730.10). While in an amicus brief filed by Professor Laurence H. Tribe of Harvard Law School, it is suggested that it is possible to impose legal duties on nonhuman animals, noting the “long history, mainly from the medieval and early modern periods, of animals being tried for offenses such as attacking human beings and eating crops,” none of the cases cited took place in modern times or in New York. Moreover, as noted in an amicus brief submitted by Professor Richard Cupp, nonhumans lack sufficient responsibility to have any legal standing, which, according to Cupp is why even chimpanzees who have caused death or serious injury to human beings have not been prosecuted. Matter of Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v Lavery, 2017 NY Slip Op 04574, 1st Dept 6-8-17
ANIMAL LAW (CHIMPANZEES NOT ENTITLED TO HABEAS CORPUS RELIEF)/CIVIL PROCEDURE (ANIMAL LAW, HABEAS CORPUS, CHIMPANZEES NOT ENTITLED TO HABEAS CORPUS RELIEF)/ANIMAL LAW (HABEAS CORPUS, CHIMPANZEES NOT ENTITLED TO HABEAS CORPUS RELIEF)/HABEAS CORPUS (CHIMPANZEES NOT ENTITLED TO HABEAS CORPUS RELIEF)/CHIMPANZEES (HABEAS CORPUS, CHIMPANZEES NOT ENTITLED TO HABEAS CORPUS RELIEF)