Update on Hercules and Leo Order to Show Cause

This afternoon Judge Barbara Jaffe amended yesterday’s ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE & WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS by striking out the words “& WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS” from the title of her Order. This case is one of a trio of cases that the Nonhuman Rights Project has brought in an attempt to free chimpanzees imprisoned within the State of New York through an “Article 70–Habeas Corpus” proceeding. These cases are novel and this is the first time that an Order to Show Cause has issued. We are grateful for an opportunity to litigate the issue of the freedom of the chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, at the ordered May hearing.

To see the press release that was issued yesterday and amended today click here.

UPDATE: The hearing is now scheduled for Wednesday, May 27 at 10:30 am at the New York County Supreme Court, 80 Centre St., New York, NY 10013. The hearing is open to the public.

12 Responses to “Update on Hercules and Leo Order to Show Cause”
  1. Catherine says:

    Thank you to all those dedicated and committed humans who have brought the world’s attention to this important cause. It was Ghandi who said that, ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’ There is hope.

  2. C. Bruno says:

    With all due respect these headlines are very close to–if not “misleading” please. Though I truly appreciate the enormous labor that is expended in advancing protections and acknowledging inherent rights of all living beings, human and non-humans. The Order was an Order to be heard. NO DECISION has been made as to habeas corpus petition, no writ was given, not even a restraining order. Nothing gets a judge angrier than to put words in their mouths or have their actions misrepresented–even if innocently. In fact, such publicity compelled the judge swiftly to amend her decision and cross the words out habeas corpus. As attorneys we need to be responsible and careful as to what is represented to anyone–it is a duty. Pls contact me.

    It is my desire that the following argument and persuasion is made that applied back then when women were mere property of the man:

    To “reject venerable rules which “no longer expresses a standard of care which accords with the mores of our society” We went on to note that “the common law of this State is not an anachronism, but is a LIVING LAW which responds to the surging reality of changed conditions. Abiding by that principle, we have concluded to reject Kronenbitter and to recognize a cause of action for consortium in the wife, thereby terminating an unjust discrimination under New York law.” Millington v. Southeastern Elevator Co., 22 NY 2d 498 – NY: Court of Appeals 1968

    It is important for the attorneys to show what those “changed conditions” are in our society which permits a Court to reject the venerable rule of experimentation of living creatures who inherently posses a self.

    All we have hear is the opportunity to be heard on the issue of habeas corpus, NOT A WRIT, for no writ was given.

    • Misty says:

      If the animals are owned by New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana, how is the group able to take SUNY Stony Brook to court rather than the legal owner?

      • Lauren Choplin says:

        Hi Misty! That is an excellent question. The short answer is that, with a habeas corpus proceedings, you sue the individual who is holding another in detention, which, in this case, is SUNY Stony Brook. New Iberia owns Hercules and Leo but they aren’t currently in their custody. Hope this helps!

  3. G. Reyes-Illg says:

    Ms Bruno,

    With all due respect — I think you may be mistaken in your reply above. I am not a lawyer, but as far as I can tell, the judge’s original document does appear to be a writ of a writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus is defined as “a summons with the force of a court order; it is addressed to the custodian (a prison official for example) and demands that a prisoner be taken before the court, and that the custodian present proof of authority, allowing the court to determine whether the custodian has lawful authority to detain the prisoner.”

    • C. Bruno says:

      Your comment is appreciated. In essence what was granted was an “Order to Show Cause” on the issue of habeas corpus. Meaning, as you read the paragraph:”why an Order should NOT be entered ……” Attorneys know what this means and should exercise caution in discussing and commenting matters in litigation.

      The fact that the title was written Order to Show Cause “& writ of habeas corpus” has very little bearing and merely clerical because the language of the body was very clear–especially for attorneys who file these routinely. I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but the obvious is what it is.

      The point I was making is that unintended consequences of such excitement went albeit too far, even if innocently. Attorneys and the parties they represent, have to be very, very careful if choosing to publicize matters in litigation. For the Court to swiftly amend, and specifically strike out: ” & habeas corpus,” speaks volumes.

      I am pleased with the Court’s order granting the opportunity of being heard, a fundamental due process of our democracy and with this organization who has labored tirelessly. Unfortunately, in my professional opinion, I am saddened with a cloud that has settled over this matter, presenting another hurdle for the attorneys in this case, aside from the monumental hearing to contend with.

      It is noteworthy to point out that this very Court issued an opinion and I quote therefrom: ―We have one of the most important statements from a “modern court” as to the “de-chattelization” of household pets… Cognizant of the cherished status accorded to pets in our society…

      The factors touched upon in the decision include the concern for Lovey’s well-being as an elderly cat and the special relationship that existed between him and the person with whom he was living, a relationship that is
      described, rather nicely, as one where Lovey has “loved and been loved….”

      The decision is a clear statement that the concept of a household pet like Lovey being mere property is OUTMODED.” Travis v. Murray, 42 Misc. 3d 447 – NY: Supreme Court, 2013. 977 N.Y.S.2d 621
      2013; NY Slip Op 23405

      pls read that decision here: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_casecase=5437591527749642165&q=travis+v.+murray&hl=en&as_sdt=6,33

      Hence, this Court is a modern Court piercing into the changed winds in social mores of our society that can no held back.

      Regards, C. Bruno

      • C. Bruno says:

        For some reason the pasted address is not linking. Here is a quick way to find it, go to Google Scholar, select cases, and type Travis v. Murray and it will be the first hit.

  4. anne omalley says:

    what can we the people, as it were, do to help.

    thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you do.


  5. L. Atwood says:

    Reflections on Revamped Rights for Animals ~ April 22, 2015

    Progress!! Recently chimpanzees in a New York legal case (Petitioners: The Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. on Behalf of Hercules and Leo) were granted a writ of habeas corpus (unlawful detainer) against Stony Brook University, on Long Island New York, where they are being held for biomedical experimentation in a research facility. Although the Honorable Barbara Jaffe, Justice of the New York Supreme Court case, later struck down that exact wording on the court order (see link to the document below). The court order remains nonetheless executory to show cause, and the omission of those exact words (habeas corpus) does not change the meaning of the order, or the fact that a groundbreaking legal right for animals has just been judicially granted.

    The Nonhuman Rights Project has stated the nonprofit organization would like the long-held mistreated, Hercules and Leo, “freed and released into the care of Save the Chimps, a sanctuary in Ft. Pierce, Florida. There they will spend the rest of their lives primarily on one of 13 artificial islands on a large lake in Ft. Pierce, Florida along with 250 other chimpanzees in an environment as close to that of their natural home in Africa as can be found in North America.”

    Gaining the release of the chimpanzees from an alleged ‘unlawful detention’ is actually rather revolutionary. Historically, animals have been treated merely as personal property in the common law and civil law legal systems. To date, in the United States, under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, animals have routinely had no standing/access to the courts for a legal remedy in the event of mistreatment (violations under the law)–even through advocates. This is the state of affairs despite the fact that there are a number of statutes and other regulations already in place for the specific purpose of protecting animals from such cruelty. These legal protections include:

    Federal Statutes: Endangered Species Act, Animal Welfare Act, and Marine Mammals Protection Act
    State Statutes: Anti-cruelty laws and laws requiring proper care and treatments of domestic and farm animals
    Criminal Statutes: Impose a duty to treat animals humanely; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) just made animal cruelty a top tier felony (effective 2016) alongside crimes against society such as burglary, kidnapping, arson, and homicide
    Tort Law & Family Law: Both recognize the unique status of animals and specifically, the special relationship between a pet owner and pet: Torts: by providing compensation for emotional distress and trauma associated with the death or injury of a pet; Family Law: by providing for shared custody or visitation arrangements upon separation/divorce, and pet trusts that are now legally enforceable (not just honorary) in most states
    Consequently, without legal standing in the courts, animals have been unable to access (have the benefit of) the full protection granted to them under the law. It appears, the legislative intent behind these laws and regulations has been somewhat lost in the shuffle of the ongoing contretemps between the large political interest groups on both sides of this debate.

    Nevertheless, we are still left with the rather conspicuous fact that animals are not the same as other property types–such as an inanimate painting or a sculpture. Animals are instead sentient beings–responsive to or conscious of sense impressions (able to feel, see, hear, smell, or taste).

    I, for one, am very glad our legal system seems finally willing to recognize the long obvious marked distinction between non-sentient property and sentient property. These really are discrete categories, though they have never been treated separately in any real or consistent manner in the courts. Fortunately, one of the great strengths of our U.S. Constitution is having the flexibility of interpretation to apply the Supreme Law of the Land to changing times. Hopefully, now that society’s eyes have opened to this issue, this case will have a positive outcome for the aggrieved animals, and set the precedent for animal advocates’ successes in similar future cases.

    To clarify though, that is not to say, under the natural law foundation upon which our Constitution was crafted, that animal rights are equivalent to human rights. Animals are not humans and so human rights should stay just that…reserved for humans. However, the status quo is not the same as with past generations. Currently, we have bred large numbers of animals for domestication, and rendered them unable to survive in the wild. We have also taken habitats from wild animals with our numerous encroaching housing developments and cities. Further, we have cruelly caged animals for our own experimentation and exploitation. Animals clearly need a measure of rights at least somewhere between that of a painting, or even that of a (living but still not sentient) tree, and a person.

    I believe that animals should be protected from cruelty/pain in life and in death on a par with their level of sentience. It is long past time, that we can and should act as advocates or guardians for animals in the court system–much like we have done so for minor children or the mentally handicapped; those who are unable to speak for themselves. I believe British jurist, philosopher, and social reformer, Jeremy Bentham had the correct idea, “The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but “Can they suffer?” (The Principles of Morals and Legislation, 1789).

    As I have learned through the study of jurisprudence, good laws treat things that are equal, equally – such as all people having the same rights regardless of the color of their skin. By the same token, good laws also treat things that are unequal, unequally – which is why you won’t find a young child behind the wheel of a car. A young child is not equal in mental and motor skills to an adult; facts that would be disastrous to disregard.

    So knowing all that we know now, can our legal system really continue saying there is no difference between a painting, a sculpture or even a tree and a live animal? If you are still not convinced that our law needs to evolve to reflect the reality of the situation…. Our own beloved President Abraham Lincoln once said, “I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.” In caring for animals, we care for society, and in turn care for ourselves with a respect for the dignity of living beings.

    Lesley A. Atwood

    Trinity Law School

    J.D. Candidate, Class of 2016

    “Updated: Judge’s ruling grants legal right to research chimps” by David Grimm, Science Insider, April 20, 2015 (http://news.sciencemag.org/plants-animals/2015/04/judge-s-ruling-grants-legal-right-research-chimps)

    Court Document: http://news.sciencemag.org/sites/default/files/habeas%20update.pdf

    “Judge Recognizes Two Chimpanzees as Legal Persons, Grants Them Writ of Habeas Corpus” published by the Nonhuman Rights Project following press release this afternoon, April 20, 2015. (http://www.nonhumanrightsproject.org/2015/04/20/judge-recognizes-two-chimpanzees-as-legal-persons-grants-them-writ-of-habeas-corpus/)

    “Judge Orders Stony Brook University to Defend Its Custody of Two Chimps by Jesse McKinley, New York Times, April 21,2015 (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/22/nyregion/judge-orders-hearing-for-2-chimps-said-to-be-unlawfully-detained.html)

    “Chimps Granted Habeas Corpus, a Right Normally Reserved Humans” by Tim De Chant on http://www.pbs.org, April 21,2015 (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/nature/chimpanzees-granted-habeas-corpus-a-legal-action-normally-reserved-for-humans/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=pbsofficial&utm_campaign=nova_next)

    “Chimpanzees given HUMAN rights: NY Judge rules that two primates held at research lab are covered by the same laws that govern detention of people” by Sara Malm for Daily Mail MailOnline, April, 21, 2015 (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3048579/Chimpanzees-given-HUMAN-rights-NY-judge-rules-two-primates-held-research-lab-covered-laws-govern-detention-people.html)

    “The FBI Just Made Animal Cruelty a Top Tier Felony (VIDEO)” Addicting Info: author Sarah, April 9, 2015 (http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/04/09/the-fbi-just-made-animal-cruelty-a-top-tier-felony-video/)

    “Chimpanzees Hercules and Leo granted ‘human rights’ by U.S. Judge” by Tim Walker for the Belfast Telegraph UK, April 21, 2015 (http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/chimpanzees-hercules-and-leo-granted-human-rights-by-us-judge-31161241.html)

    Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune: http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-baby-animal-photos/

    Mentoring Professors: Thaddeus Williams, Legal Institutions and Values and Alexandra Snyder, Legal Research and Writing III

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  1. […] The Nonhuman Rights Project, the group that brought the suit on behalf of the two chimps, responded to the amended order, saying: […]

  2. […] The Nonhuman Rights Project, the group that brought the suit on behalf of the two chimps, responded to the amended order, saying: […]

  3. […] much kerfuffle over the implications of applying habeas corpus to a chimp, the judge, on Tuesday, struck those words from her order. The chimps still get representation in court, but their personhood is not up for debate at the […]

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