Friday, March 6, 2009

Habeas Corpus

Suspended by Lincoln during the U.S. Civil War, habeas corpus ad subjiciendum is one of those extraordinary remedies recognized most prominently in the U.S. Constitution, Article I,(habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it). The modern rules of civil procedure have done away with almost all the old English Common Law writs and merged them into one huge writ, called by the prosaic name of "special action." Etymology: Medieval Latin, literally, you should have the body (the opening words of the writ): any of several writs originating at common law that are issued to bring a party before the court.

I have gone my whole life looking for an opportunity to use a writ of habeas corpus, just so I could say I had done it. It certainly starting to look like it will never happen. However, it is one of those Latin phrases that everyone has heard and has almost come to signify obscurity in the law.

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