“Habeas Corpus”; command that a prisoner be brought before the court to challenge the legality of their custody & demand their release
A writ(courtorder)thatcommands an individual or a governmentofficialwhohasrestrainedanother to producethe prisoner at a designatedtime & place so thatthecourtcandeterminethelegality of custody & decidewhether to ordertheprisoner’srelease.
A writ of habeascorpusdirects a person,usually a prisonwarden, to producetheprisoner & justifytheprisoner’sdetention. If theprisonerargues successfullythattheincarceration is in violation of a constitutionalright,thecourtmayordertheprisoner’srelease.Habeascorpusreliefalsomaybe used to obtaincustody of a child or to gaintherelease of a detainedpersonwho is insane, is a drugaddict, or has an infectiousdisease. Usually,however,it is a response to imprisonment by thecriminaljusticesystem.
A writ of habeascorpus is authorized by statute in federalcourts & in allstatecourts.An inmate in state or federalprisonasksforthewrit by filing a petitionwiththecourtthatsentencedhim or her. In moststates,& in federalcourts,theinmate is giventheopportunity to present a short oralargument in a hearingbeforethecourt. He or shealsomayreceive an evidentiaryhearing to establishevidenceforthepetition.
Thehabeascorpusconceptwasfirstexpressed in theMagna Charta, a constitutionaldocumentforced on KingJohn by Englishlandowners at Runnymede on June15,1215.Amongthelibertiesdeclared in theMagnaChartawasthat“Nofreemanshall be seized, or imprisoned, or dis-seized, or outlawed, or exiled, or injured in anyway,norwill we enter on him or sendagainsthimexcept by thelawfuljudgment of hispeers, or by thelaw of theland.”Thisprincipleevolved to meanthat no personshould be deprived of freedomwithoutDue Process of Law (5th Amendment).
Theonlyreference to thewrit of habeascorpus in theU.S.Constitution is contained in Article I, Section 9, Clause 2. Thisclauseprovides,“The Privilege of theWrit of HabeasCorpusshallnot be suspended,unlesswhen in Cases of Rebellion or InvasionthepublicSafetymayrequireit.”
Thewrit of habeascorpus is an extraordinaryremedybecause it gives a courtthepower to release a prisoneraftertheprisonerhasbeenprocessed throughthecriminaljusticesystem,withallitsproceduralsafeguards & appeals.Forthisreason,theburden is initially on thepetitioningprisonerto provethat he or she is beingheld in violation of a constitutionalright. If thepetitionercanmeetthisburdenwithsufficientevidence,theburdenthenshifts to thewarden to justifytheimprisonment.