Elephant Habeas: Happy’s Case Is Bound for the Bronx

An elephant holding a brush in its trunk and using it to paint paint an elephant

Springtime in the Bronx! The spring is sprung, / the grass is riz, / I wunna wheah the boidies is? The lawyers who purport to represent Happy the Elephant on a petition for a writ of habeas corpus have failed in their quest to have the case heard in remote Orleans County rather than in the Bronx. Never has so much time been spent litigating a question of venue for the “benefit” of an elephant. And rarely has forum shopping been so blatant. As I reported in December, Steven Wise, the lead lawyer, said that the reason he chose such an out-of-the-way venue was that “local courts aren’t amenable to his arguments.” In other words, the appellate court in the Bronx has already considered and rejected Wise’s arguments. Wise lost the venue argument, of course, and then sought reconsideration and also leave to appeal.

The Orleans judge denied Wise’s request for reconsideration, which Wise argued by telephone, apparently because it was not so easy to get to Orleans. You can’t make this stuff up:

I believe that it is probably the most inconvenient place to have this case argued. And I can evidence that by the fact that we’re on the telephone now, and that despite Court being in session on Friday, that because you didn’t want or could not or, you know, found it difficult to come to Orleans to make an argument in person, you know, you’ve witnessed how difficult it is to have a case in such a remote county. Okay. And also one where there is simply no nexus whatsoever to Happy. So I have not changed my ruling whatsoever. And I’m not making any—I’m not granting a motion for you to seek appeal. If you think you could seek it in some other way without my permission, go for it; but I’m not granting the permission. This case does not belong in Orleans County. Even if it thought it belonged in Orleans County a little bit, if I had any misgivings, I would give some serious thought to it. But there is simply no reason for this case to be in Orleans County, okay, no legal reason, no moral reason.

Now the Appellate Division has rejected Wise’s final effort to keep the case in Orleans. Presumably this means that the end of this particular instance of farcical habeas corpus litigation is nigh.

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