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April 20, 2015 / V A Nichols

In Historic Ruling, Court Recognizes Two Chimps as Legal Persons

League of Humane Voters - Alabama

For the first time in history, a judge has granted a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a nonhuman animal.

chimp-112113This afternoon, in a case brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe issued the writ on behalf of two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, who are being used for biomedical experimentation at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York.

Under the law of New York State, only a “legal person” may have a writ of habeas corpus issued in his or her behalf. The Court has therefore implicitly determined that Hercules and Leo are “persons”.

To be clear, this does not mean that the two chimpanzees will immediately be set free. A common law writ of habeas corpus involves a two-step process:

First, a judge issues the writ of habeas corpus, which requires Stony Brook University to appear in court and provide…

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