habeas corpus

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Full Definition of HABEAS CORPUS
1: any of several common-law writs issued to bring a party before a court or judge;
especially : habeas corpus ad subjiciendum A subpoena ad testificandum is a court summons to appear and give oral testimony for use at a hearing or trial. The use of a writ for purposes of compelling testimony originated in the Ecclesiastical Courts of the High Middle Ages, especially in England. The use of the subpoena writ was gradually adopted over time by other courts in England and the European Continent.
2: the right of a citizen to obtain a writ of habeas corpus as a protection against illegal imprisonment
See habeas corpus defined for English-language learners »
: an order to bring a jailed person before a judge or court to find out if that person should really be in jail
apply for a writ of habeas corpus
See habeas corpus defined for kids »
ha·be·as cor·pus
Pronunciation: secondarystresshamacr-bemacron-schwa-primarystressskodotr-pschwas
Function: noun
Etymology: derived from the Latin phrase, meaning literally “you should have the body,” used as the opening words of a legal order to jailers to bring the prisoner to court
1 : a legal order for an inquiry to determine whether a person has been lawfully imprisoned
2 : the right of a citizen to obtain a writ of habeas corpus as a protection against illegal imprisonment
In common law, any of several writs issued to bring a party before a court. The most important such writ (habeas corpus ad subjiciendum) is used to correct violations of personal liberty by directing judicial inquiry into the legality of a detention. Common grounds for relief include a conviction based on illegally obtained evidence, a denial of effective assistance of counsel, or a conviction by a jury that was improperly selected or impaneled. The writ may be used in civil matters to challenge a person’s custody of a child or the institutionalization of a person declared incompetent.
habeas corpus, an ancient common-law writ, issued by a court or judge directing one who holds another in custody to produce the body of the person before the court for some specified purpose. Although there have been and are many varieties of the writ, the most important is that used to correct violations of personal liberty by directing judicial inquiry into the legality of a detention. The habeas corpus remedy is recognized in the countries of the Anglo-American legal system but is generally not found in civil-law countries, although some of the latter have adopted comparable procedures.
habeas corpus
Henry VII [Credit: Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London]The origins of the writ cannot be stated with certainty. Before the Magna Carta (1215) a variety of writs performed some of the functions of habeas corpus. During the Middle Ages habeas corpus was employed to bring cases from inferior tribunals into the king’s courts. The modern history of the writ as a device for the protection of personal liberty against official authority may be said to date from the reign of Henry VII (1485–1509), when efforts were made to employ it on behalf of persons imprisoned by the Privy Council. By the reign of Charles I, in the 17th century, the … (200 of 741 words)
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