I blogged about this case before when the judge granted the monkeys a hearing. But I find it fascinating and wanted to post an update.
In a case watched closely by animal rights activists, a State Supreme Court judge in Manhattan recently denied a petition by a not-for-profit animal rights group seeking to free a pair of chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, being held at a state university on Long Island.
The petition sought a writ of habeas corpus (a time-honored process of challenging imprisonment as unlawful) for the chimps. The group argued that the animals are so genetically superior to other animals and so similar to humans (they share 99% of DNA with humans) that they should be deemed “human” at least to the extent that they should not be locked up without good cause. Expert affidavits were submitted attesting to the monkeys’ language prowess, intelligence, and personalities. Among other human-like traits, chimps have a keen sense of self-awareness (they recognize themselves in a mirror).
The judge reviewed all this evidence with a sympathetic eye, but in the end refused to smash the wall of existing case law, which says animals have no “rights” other than to be free from unnecessary mistreatment or abuse. The judge concluded that chimpanzees – no matter how intelligent and human-like – “are considered property under our law”.
The judge was not, however, unsympathetic to the plaintiffs’ position, and noted that one day monkeys may win their freedom: “Efforts to extend legal rights to chimpanzees are understandable and some day they may even succeed.”
So stay tuned! We at Michaels & Smolak welcome new clients — even monkeys — as long as they have legitimate claims recognized by the law. We’ll deal with how to dress them for court when the time comes . . .
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.