If the appellate court rejects the NhRP's arguments, the organization will appeal this decision to the highest court in New York: the Court of Appeals.
When these first lawsuits were filed, last December, they made headlines all around the world, and Tommy's appeal may well make headlines again. Legal experts, attorneys and animal rights organizations worldwide have been taking note of the strategy of seeking legal rights for nonhuman animals through the ancient writ of habeas corpus.
This is the same approach, for example, that was taken in the groundbreaking case of a slave, James Somerset, who was taken to London by his "owner". A team of attorneys filed suit on his behalf, arguing that he was a "legal person" who could therefore not be held as property. In 1772, the famous judge Lord Mansfield agreed and ordered that Somerset be freed. As a result, similar suits were soon being filed in the newly established United States.
While the appeals process on behalf of the New York chimpanzees works its way through the courts, the NhRP is already preparing its next round of lawsuits, which will likely be on behalf of a group of elephants who are being held at a zoo or circus.