Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus


This term is a noun.

Etimology of Habeas Corpus

(You may find habeas corpus at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

writ requiring a person to be brought before a court, mid-15c., Latin, literally “(you should) have the person,” in phrase habeas corpus ad subjiciendum “produce or have the person to be subjected to (examination),” opening words of writs in 14c. Anglo-French documents to require a person to be brought before a court or judge, especially to determine if that person is being legally detained. From habeas, second person singular present subjunctive of habere “to have, to hold” (see habit; this term is also a noun.) + corpus “person,” literally “body” (see corporeal). In reference to more than one person, habeas corpora.


See Also

  • Law Dictionaries.
  • Amnesty and Pardon; Appeal; Capital Punishment: Legal Aspects; Counsel: Right to Counsel; Criminal Procedure: Constitutional Aspects; Criminal Justice Process; Exclusionary Rule; Guilt; Prisoners, Legal Rights of.

    Latin forensic terms.

  • Related Case Law

    Ableman v. Booth, 62 U.S. (21 How.) 506 (1858).

    Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443 (1953).

    Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722 (1991).

    Ex Parte Bollman, 8 U.S. (4 Cranch) 75 (1807).

    Ex Parte Merryman, 17 F. Cas. 144 (C.C.D. Md. 1891) (No. 9487).

    Fay v. Noia, 372 U.S. 391 (1963).

    Frank v. Magnum, 237 U.S. 309 (1915).

    Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390 (1993).

    Mackey v. United States, 401 U.S. 667 (1971).

    Williams v. Taylor, 526 U.S. 1050 (1999).

    Wright v. West, 505 U.S. 277 (1992).

    Further Reading

    Bator, Paul M. “Finality in Criminal Law and Federal Habeas Corpus for State Prisoners.” Harvard Law Review 78 (1963): 441-528.

    Chen, Alan K. “Shadow Law: Reasonable Unreasonableness, Habeas Theory, and the Nature of Legal Rules.” Buffalo Criminal Law Review 2 (1999): 535-634. “Developments in the Law: Federal Habeas Corpus.” Harvard Law Review 83 (1970): 1038-1280.

    Duker, William F. A Constitutional History of Habeas Corpus. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1980.

    Freedman, Eric M. “Milestones in Habeas Corpus: Part I. Just Because John Marshall Said It, Doesn’t Make It So: Ex Parte Bollman and the Illusory Prohibition on the Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus for State Prisoners in the Judiciary Act of 1789.” University of Alabama Law Review 51 (2000): 531-602.

    Friendly, Henry J. “Is Innocence Irrelevant? Collateral Attack on Criminal Judgments.” University of Chicago Law Review 38 (1970): 142-172.

    Hoffman, Joseph L. “Substance and Procedure in Capital Cases: Why Federal Habeas Courts Should Review the Merits of Every Death Sentence.” University of Texas Law Review (2000): 1771-1803.

    Hurd, Rollin C. A Treatise on the Right of Personal Liberty, and on the Writ of Habeas Corpus, 2d ed. Albany, N.Y.: W.C. Little & Co, 1876.

    Liebman, James S. “Apocalypse Next Time?: The Anachronistic Attack on Habeas Corpus/Direct Review Parity.” University of Columbia Law Review 92 (1992): 1997-2097.

    More Further Reading

    -. “More Than ‘Slightly Retro’: The Rehnquist Court’s Rout of Habeas Corpus Jurisdiction in Teague v. Lane.” New York University Review of Law and Social Change 18 (1990-1991): 537-635.

    Liebman, James S., and Hertz, Randy. Federal Habeas Corpus Practice and Procedure, 2d ed. Charlottesville, Va.: The Michie Co., 1994.

    Oaks, Dallin H. “Habeas Corpus in the States: 1776-1865.” University of Chicago Law Review 32 (1965): 243-288.

    Peller, Gary. “In Defense of Federal Habeas Corpus Relitigation.” Harvard Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review 16 (1982): 579-691.

    Steiker, Jordan. “Innocence and Federal Habeas.” University of California at Los Angeles Law Review 41 (1993): 303-389.

    . “Incorporating the Suspension Clause: Is there a Constitutional Right to Federal Habeas Corpus for State Prisoners?” University of Michigan Law Review 92 (1994): 862-924.

    . “Restructuring Post-Conviction Review of Federal Constitutional Claims Raised by State Prisoners: Confronting the New Face of Excessive Proceduralism.” University of Chicago Legal Forum (1998): 315-347.

    . “Habeas Exceptionalism.” University of Texas Law Review (2000): 1703-1730.

    Tushnet, Mark, and Yackle, Larry. “Symbolic Statutes and Real Laws: The Pathologies of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Prison Litigation Reform Act.” Duke Law Journal 47 (1997): 1-86.

    Yackle, Larry W. Postconviction Remedies. Rochester, N.Y.: Lawyers Co-Operative Publishing Co., 1981.

    . “The Misadventure of State Post-Conviction Remedies.” New York University Review of Law and Social Change 16 (1987-1988): 359-394.

    . “A Primer on the New Habeas Corpus Statute.” University of Buffalo Law Review 44 (1996): 381-449.

    . “The Figure in the Carpet.” University of Texas Law Review (2000): 1731-1770.

    Habeas corpus in Law Enforcement

    Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of habeas corpus.


    See Also

    • Law Enforcement Officer
    • Police Work
    • Law Enforcement Agency

    Further Reading

    English Legal System: Habeas Corpus

    In the context of the English law, A Dictionary of Law provides the following legal concept of Habeas Corpus : A prerogative writ used to challenge the validity of a person’s detention, either in official custody (e.g. when held pending deportation or extradition) or in private hands. Deriving from the royal prerogative and therefore originally obtained by petitioning the sovereign, it is now issued by the Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division, or, during vacation, by any High Court judge. If on an application for the writ the Court or judge is satisfied that the detention is prima facie unlawful, the custodian is ordered to appear and justify it, failing which release is ordered.

    Habeas Corpus Meaning in the U.S. Court System

    A writ (court order) that is usually used to bring a prisoner before the court to determine the legality of his or her imprisonment. Someone in state prison may file a petition in federal court for a “writ of habeas corpus,” seeking to have the federal court review whether the state violated his or her rights under the U.S. Constitution. Federal prisoners may file habeas petitions as well. A writ of habeas corpus may also be used to bring a person in custody before the court to give testimony or to be prosecuted.

    Meaning of Habeas Corpus in the U.S. Legal System

    Definition of Habeas Corpus published by the National Association for Court Management: A writ commanding that a person be brought before a judge. Most commonly, a writ of habeas corpus is a legal document that forces law enforcement authorities to produce a prisoner they are holding and to legally justify his or her confinement.

    Concept of “Habeas Corpus”

    Traditional meaning of habeas corpus in English (with some legal use of this la
    tin concept in England and the United States in the XIX Century) [1]: (in Latin) (That you have the body.) A name given to a number of writs having for their object to bring a person to court, and particularly the Habeas corpus ad subjiciendum: a writ directed to a person detaining the body of another, to inquire into the cause of the detention, and have him submit to whatever the court shall direct; see Robinson’s Elementary Law Rev. ed.; §§ 40, 269. Habeas corpus ad faciendum et recipiendum: a writ to remove the cause, as well as the body of the defendant, to the jurisdiction of a superior court; also called habeas corpus cum causa. Habeas corpus ad prosequendum, testificandum, deliberandum, etc.; to remove the body of the prisoner to be prosecuted or to testify in the higher court, in the proper jurisdiction. So ad satisfaciendum, to charge him, upon judgment in an inferior court, with execution in the superior; see 3rd Book (“Of Private Wrongs”), Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England 130. Habeas corpora juratorum: a writ for the sheriff to compel attendance of jurymen in the C. P.; like a distringas juratores in the K. B.; see 3rd Book (“Of Private Wrongs”), Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England 354.


    Notes and References

    1. Based on A Concise Law Dictionary of Words, Phrases and Maxims, “Habeas Corpus”, Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1911, United States. It is also called the Stimson’s Law dictionary. This term and/or definition may be absolete.

    See Also

    Habeas Corpus in the National Security Context

    A definition and brief description of Habeas Corpus in relation to national security is as follows:U.S. constitutional right to avoid unlawful detention or imprisonment. Taken from the Latin phrase “You have the body.”

    Habeas Corpus (Appellate Process)

    Habeas Corpus

    Habeas Corpus


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