NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT, INC.
R.W. COMMERFORD AND SONS, INC., et al.
April 22, 2019
from Superior Court, Judicial District of Litchfield at
Torrington, Bentivegna, J.
M. Wise, pro hac vice, with whom were David B. Zabel,
Bridgeport and, on the brief, Barbara M. Schellenberg,
Orange, for the appellant (petitioner).
R. Cherry filed a brief for Laurence H. Tribe as amicus
R. Cherry filed a brief for Justin Marceau et al. as amici
Dubois filed a brief as amicus curiae.
Jessica S. Rubin filed a brief for The Philosophers as amici
Keller and Elgo, Js.
Conn.App. 38] The petitioner, Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc.,
appeals from the judgment of the habeas court
declining to issue a writ of habeas corpus that
it sought on behalf of three elephants, Beulah, Minnie, and
Karen (elephants), who are alleged to be confined by the
named respondents, R.W. Commerford & Sons, Inc. (also known
as the Commerford Zoo), and its president, William R.
Commerford, at the Commerford Zoo in Goshen. The
petitioner argues that the court erred in (1) dismissing its
petition for a writ of habeas corpus on the basis that it
lacked standing, (2) denying its subsequent motion to amend
the petition, and (3) dismissing the habeas petition on the
alternative ground that it was "wholly frivolous."
For the reasons discussed herein, we agree with the habeas
court that the petitioner lacked standing. Accordingly,
we affirm the judgment of the habeas court.
November 13, 2017, the petitioner filed a verified petition
for a common-law writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the
elephants pursuant to General Statutes § 52-466 et seq. and
Practice Book § 23-21 et seq. The petitioner alleged that it
is a not-for-profit corporation with a mission of changing
"the common law status of at least some nonhuman animals
from mere things, [192 Conn.App. 39] which lack the capacity
to possess any legal rights, to persons, who possess such
fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty,
and those other legal rights to which evolving standards of
morality, scientific discovery, and ...