Supreme Judicial Court rattles author’s cage

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2001:

BOSTON–Attorney Stephen Wise was on December 19, 2000 suspended for six months from legal practice by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts for alleged misconduct involving the Primarily Primates sanctuary, located near San Antonio, Texas.

Wise, recently noted for his book Rattling The Cage: Toward Legal Rights For Animals, was also ordered to pass an examination on professional responsibility as a condition of readmission to the bar. Wise in 1992 represented Primarily Primates in refuting allegations of alleged mismanagment raised by ex-staff and volunteers. Wise then billed Primarily Primates for “more than $40,000 above his written estimate,” Primarily Primates president Wally Swett told ANIMAL PEOPLE, and “orchestrated what the Texas attorney general’s office referred to as a corporate overthrow attempt for my refusal to pay his bill without an audit.”

Wrote Boston Herald legal columnist Maggie Mulvihill, “Documents filed with the Supreme Judicial Court show Wise tried to convince two Primarily Primates trustees to try to wrest control of the organization from Swett” and Swett’s longtime partner, Stephan Tello.

“Wise also contacted financial institutions where Primarily Primates held accounts, requesting that they be frozen, and
contacted the Texas attorney general’s office to accuse [Swett and Tello] of mismanaging funds,” Mulvihill continued. The actions by Wise against Swett and Tello temporarily cost Primarily Primates the support of several major animal rights organizations which had supported the care of various nonhuman primates whom Swett and Tello housed and rehabilitated.

In early December 1994 the Summerlee Foundation sent ANIMAL PEOPLE to San Antonio to investigate the allegations of animal neglect. ANIMAL PEOPLE found no truth to the negative claims.

Wise recently taught courses in animal rights law at the Harvard and John Marshall law schools, but told Mulvihill that
neither will be offering those courses again “for at least several more years.”

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