Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1754656
 


 



Dimension I: Habeas Corpus as a Common Law Writ


Eric M. Freedman


Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law

February 3, 2011

Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (CR-CL), Vol. 46, No. 2, Summer 2011
Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-03

Abstract:     
This article is the first part of a projected three-part work based on the extensive exploration of archival sources in America and England that has been conducted in the past several years by myself and other researchers.

It advances two key claims: First, in researching the history of habeas corpus we need to get beyond the label "habeas corpus." The constitutional importance of the writ is in its function not its name. Demands for release from unlawful imprisonment could be made in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by seeking a variety of writs or even by pleadings that asked for no particular writ at all. Hence for Suspension Clause purposes we should adopt a functional definition of "habeas corpus" to mean a demand, however denominated, challenging the legal basis of a detention and calling upon the custodian to justify it.

Second, the broader group of cases thus defined shares important features of judicial methodology. The judges worked vigorously (a) to resolve the case speedily on a fact-specific and pragmatic basis; and (b) with respect to those issues of law necessarily involved (I) to overcome any procedural barriers to a prompt merits ruling and (II) if a legal question seemed dis-positive, to frame it specifically and isolate it for adjudication.

I conclude by suggesting why historical research, legal scholarship, and judicial proceedings (including current ones involving Guantanamo) might benefit from applying these thoughts.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 29

Keywords: Habeaus, colonial history, common law methodology, Guantanamo, 17th century legal history, 18th century legal history, American legal history, English legal history

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Date posted: February 4, 2011 ; Last revised: October 12, 2011

Suggested Citation

Freedman, Eric M., Dimension I: Habeas Corpus as a Common Law Writ (February 3, 2011). Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (CR-CL), Vol. 46, No. 2, Summer 2011; Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-03. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1754656

Contact Information

Eric M. Freedman (Contact Author)
Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law ( email )
121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States
516-463-5167 (Phone)
515-463-5129 (Fax)

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