The Great Writ Hit: The Curtailment of Habeas Corpus in Georgia Since 1967

113 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2015

See all articles by Donald E. Wilkes

Donald E. Wilkes

University of Georgia School of Law

Date Written: 2014


A welcome development, the landmark Georgia Habeas Corpus Act of 1967 modernized and vastly expanded the availability of postconviction habeas corpus relief in the Georgia court system. Since the early 1970s, however, there has been an unfortunate trend of imposing crippling restrictions on use of the Georgia writ of habeas corpus to obtain postconviction relief. Six restrictive Georgia habeas statutes, enacted between 1973 and 2004, have, among other things, reduced the number of claims which may be asserted in postconviction habeas proceedings, curtailed appeals of postconviction habeas decisions denying relief, and created a maze of procedural barriers to obtaining postconviction habeas relief. Moreover, in a dispiriting manifestation of lack of appreciation for Great Writ, five lamentable Georgia Supreme Court decisions, handed down between 1975 and 2012, have severely limited postconviction habeas corpus, both substantively and procedurally.

Part II of this Article examines the six statutes curbing Georgia habeas corpus, while Part III explores the five Georgia Supreme Court decisions. Part IV points out the current weakened condition of the Georgia postconviction habeas remedy, deplores the sinister success of the law enforcement establishment in denigrating and politicking against postconviction remedies, and offers suggestions and strategies for restoring the habeas remedy to its former greatness as our legal system's most efficient protector of personal liberty.

Keywords: habeas corpus, Georgia law, criminal law, Georgia Habeas Corpus Act, postconviction relief

JEL Classification: K14, K41

Suggested Citation

Wilkes, Donald E., The Great Writ Hit: The Curtailment of Habeas Corpus in Georgia Since 1967 (2014). 7 John Marshall L.J. 415 (2014); UGA Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-3. Available at SSRN:

Donald E. Wilkes (Contact Author)

University of Georgia School of Law ( email )

225 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
United States

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