___ AD3d ___, ___ NYS2d ___, 2015 NY Slip Op 00085
Last week I reported the decision of the Third Department rejecting habeas corpus relief for Tommy the chimpanzee. The court held squarely that chimps, regardless of their cognitive abilities, are not “persons” within the meaning of CPLR 7002, and that it would be inappropriate to confer legal rights on them. The Fourth Department here rejects a similar petition on behalf of a chimp named Kiko, but on entirely different grounds. Assuming, for the sake of argument, both that Kiko is a “person” and that the petitioner have standing to seek habeas relief on his behalf, the petition would still be denied on settled principles. The petitioner sought only to have Kiko transferred to a different facility, not to have him released. Habeas corpus does not lie where the challenge is to the conditions of confinement rather than the confinement itself, or where the subject of the proceeding would not be entitled to immediate release.
The petitioner, the Nonhuman Rights Project, maintains a blog, with a fascinating post here concerning the reasons for the trio of New York habeas petitions, and another here concerning the status of the Argentinian proceeding reported in several (apparently overblown) news stories. The Argentinian court did not recognize an orangutan as a legal person.