How We Select Our Plaintiffs
Three criteria determine how we select plaintiffs:
- We look at the bedrock qualities courts value when determining whether an individual is a “legal person” who should possess certain fundamental rights.
- We examine the relevant judicial decisions and statutes of every state, and how they could affect a court’s ruling on whether a nonhuman animal is a legal “person” entitled to legal personhood and certain fundamental rights.
- We look for those suitable animals who may be reside in those states our research demonstrates are most favorable.
Bedrock Qualities: We ask ourselves: “What arguments might persuade a common law court that a nonhuman animal plaintiff is a legal ‘person’ – i.e. a being with the capacity for possessing any legal right?”
Two of the most fundamental and cherished portions of our legal heritage, liberty and equality, demand that certain complex cognitive abilities are sufficient grounds for courts to hold that a plaintiff is a legal “person” who possesses certain fundamental legal rights. An abundance of scientific discovery, including that done by one of our Directors, Dr. Jane Goodall, proves that at least some nonhuman animals possess these cognitive abilities.
Public opinion is simultaneously shifting in terms of how we understand these animals. When you marry the powerful existing scientific evidence with advancing public opinion, it is clear the time is right for the law to change its view of these animals.
Causes of Action: Our Legal Working Group has spent years studying how such common law writs as habeas corpus and de homine replegiando have been used for centuries in England and the United States on behalf of human unfree. Today each American state has evolved a different habeas corpus and de homine replegiando jurisprudence. This Working Group has identified those states with the most favorable jurisprudence for litigating the legal personhood and right to bodily liberty of a nonhuman animal.
Suitable Animals: Some of the best evidence for sufficiently complex cognitive complexity exists for all four species of great apes, many species of cetaceans, and all species of elephants. Therefore we will begin by focusing on them.