Facebook pixel Rick Cupp amicus brief discussed in New York Supreme Court Appellate Division opinion Skip to main content
Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Rick Cupp amicus brief discussed in New York Supreme Court Appellate Division opinion

June 9, 2017 | By Kylie Larkin -- Professor Richard L. Cupp's amicus brief, Litigating Nonhuman Animal Legal Personhood (SSRN), is discussed in Matter of Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Lavery, 2017 NY Slip Op 04574, decided on June 8, 2017, by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division. The Nonhuman Rights Project filed petitions seeking habeas corpus relief for two adult male chimpanzees.

From Matter of Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Lavery:

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. (Webber, J., J.)

The complete opinion may be found at www.nycourts.gov