Habeas Corpus in Three Dimensions: Dimension II: Habeas Corpus as a Legal Remedy

73 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2015 Last revised: 26 Mar 2016

See all articles by Eric M. Freedman

Eric M. Freedman

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law

Date Written: August 19, 2015

Abstract

This is the second part of a project whose first part — inspired by the interest in the common law writ of habeas corpus spurred by the Guantanamo Bay litigations — was published as Habeas Corpus as a Common Law Writ, 46 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 591 (2011).

This part of the project argues that understanding habeas corpus during the colonial and early national periods — and ultimately reclaiming its power today — requires understanding that it was just one strand in a web of public and private legal remedies restraining abuses of government power. This article documents, with heavy reliance on previously-unpublished sources, the extent to which in the colonial and early national periods habeas existed within an elaborate structure of public and private mechanisms for constraining government actors.

Among the implications of the piece is that the view of the current Supreme Court that protecting public officials from unwarranted damages liability is a judicial role is thoroughly ahistorical. Only during the first half of the 19th century did the system for controlling governmental abuses of power evolve into the patterns that now seem natural and pre-ordained.

Keywords: Habeas Corpus, Restraints on Power, Private Criminal Prosecution, Public Officer Liability, Jury Control of Law

Suggested Citation

Freedman, Eric M., Habeas Corpus in Three Dimensions: Dimension II: Habeas Corpus as a Legal Remedy (August 19, 2015). 8 Northeastern University Law Journal 1 (2016); Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2647615

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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