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Could a Chimpanzee or Bonobo Take the Stand?

Angela Campbell

8 Animal L. 243 (2001)
Publish Date:
Place of Publication: Animal Law Review at Lewis & Clark School of Law
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Could a Chimpanzee or Bonobo Take the Stand?


Could a Chimpanzee or Bonobo Take the Stand? (pdf file - 58.03 KB)

The federal competency standards for witnesses testifying on the stand are fairly liberal. Witnesses must be able to distinguish right from wrong, understand the concept of punishment, perceive events, and remember those events to communicate them in the future.  Chimpanzees and bonobos are able to do all of these things to some degree, and therefore, arguably satisfy the federal competency standards. In some situations, this indicates that these nonhuman apes should be allowed to testify in court, subject to the federal competency and interpreter rules.

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