When individuals are incarcerated, they will often challenge the legality of the conditions where they are being held as well as the legality of their imprisonment. This challenge is done by filing a writ of habeas corpus with the court. It is used in cases involving the U.S. Court system but also with immigrant deportation cases, military detentions and more.
It is known as the Great Writ. Habeas corpus provides incarcerated individuals the chance to obtain help from the court system. It is designed to keep the government and other institutions with the ability to incarcerate people doing such a thing according to the law. A writ of habeas corpus provides those in jail with the ability to request a judge release them from jail or end jail conditions they believe are improper. It is a way to make certain individuals are not incarcerated for long periods of time when doing so would violate their rights.
The 39th clause of the Magna Carta signed in 1215 created the legal concept of habeas corpus. During the 1600s, the English courts started utilizing this legal concept and considering habeas corpus petitions. The Founding Fathers of the United States argued about the inclusion of habeas corpus into the Bill of Rights. Chief Justice Marshall was the first U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice. He believed in the importance of habeas corpus. Marshall wrote that habeas corpus is a way to liberate individuals incarcerated without a sufficient legal reason
Suspending Habeas Corpus
Case law and statutory law have habeas corpus elements provided from the Constitution. It defines situations where habeas corpus can be suspended. There are situations where public safety makes suspension of habeas corpus necessary. It can also be done in cases of rebellion. Only the U.S. Congress has the authority to suspend habeas corpus. The executive branch of government does not have the authority on its own to suspend habeas corpus.
Seeking Federal Habeas Corpus
Should an individual need federal habeas corpus relief, they must have sought and been denied all their state’s legal remedies. This is part of federal case law. Individuals who are incarcerated must initially present their claim in state court at least once. This must be done as part of an appeal. It is unnecessary for an incarcerated individual to repeatedly go back to state court and raise the same issues. Should a state court refuse to review an incarcerated person’s claim on the grounds it has already performed such a review, this makes it possible for a federal review of habeas corpus.
A writ of habeas corpus has been identified by the U.S. Supreme Court as a fundamental tool essential for protecting individual freedoms from actions by government that are lawless and arbitrary. It is something that must be administered by the court. It must be done with the necessary flexibility to make certain any miscarriage of justice, within the court’s purview, is discovered and corrected.
A writ of habeas corpus is not a legal action that can be substituted for the appeal process. It has not been designed as a way to test trial procedures as well as state law violation. Should appropriate proceedings have taken place, a court deciding habeas corpus could determine the facts of the case and the law requires a prisoner to be awarded relief. Once a writ of habeas corpus is granted, the government must release a prisoner from incarceration.
Once an individual has been convicted of a capital crime, a writ of habeas corpus can’t automatically be applied to their case. There are exceptions. One is when a subsequent decision involving the case identifies a fundamental right denied during the court proceedings that could have had a major impact on an accurate conviction. Another is when a subsequent decision puts a defendant, or specific conduct, past the reach of the law used for a conviction.
The writ of habeas corpus is a legal tool in place to protect an individual against lawless actions of the state. It is a procedural device that places decisions by the government under judicial scrutiny as a way to protect individual liberties. It was not designed to determine an individual’s guilt or innocence but to test the legality of an incarcerated person’s detention. A court’s job is to determine if the government does or does not have the authority in certain situations to detain someone.