Habeas corpus (/ˈheɪbiəs ˈkɔːrpəs/) is a recourse in law challenging the reasons or conditions of a person's confinement under color of law. A petition for habeas corpus is filed with a court that has jurisdiction over the custodian, and if granted, a writ is issued directing the custodian to bring the confined person before the court for examination into those reasons or conditions. The Suspension Clause of the United States Constitution specifically included the English common law procedure in Article One, Section 9, clause 2, which demands that "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."
United States law affords persons the right to petition the federal courts for a writ of habeas corpus. Individual states also afford persons the ability to petition their own state court systems for habeas corpus pursuant to their respective constitutions and laws when held or sentenced by state authorities.
Federal habeas review did not extend to those in state custody until almost a century after the nation's founding. During the Civil War and Reconstruction, as later during the War on Terrorism, the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus was substantially curtailed for persons accused of engaging in certain conduct. In reaction to the former, and to ensure state courts enforced federal law, a Reconstruction Act for the first time extended the right of federal court habeas review to those in the custody of state courts (prisons and jails), expanding the writ essentially to all imprisoned on American soil. The federal habeas statute that resulted, with substantial amendments, is now at 28 U.S.C. § 2241. For many decades, the great majority of habeas petitions reviewed in federal court have been filed by those confined in state prisons by sentence of a state court for state crimes (e.g., murder, rape, robbery, etc.), since in the American system, most crimes have historically been a matter of state law.
The privilege of habeas corpus is not a right against unlawful arrest, but rather a right to be released from imprisonment after such arrest. If one believes the arrest is without legal merit and subsequently refuses to come willingly, he still may be guilty of resisting arrest, which can sometimes be a crime in and of itself (even if the initial arrest itself was illegal) depending on the state.
Habeas corpus derives from the English common law where the first recorded usage was in 1305, in the reign of King Edward I of England. The procedure for the issuing of writs of habeas corpus was first codified by the Habeas Corpus Act 1679, following judicial rulings which had restricted the effectiveness of the writ. A previous act had been passed in 1640 to overturn a ruling that the command of the Queen was a sufficient answer to a petition of habeas corpus. Winston Churchill, in his chapter on the English Common Law in The Birth of Britain, explains the process thus:
Only the King had a right to summon a jury. Henry [II] accordingly did not grant it to private courts ... But all this was only a first step. Henry also had to provide means whereby the litigant, eager for royal justice, could remove his case out of the court of his lord into the court of the King. The device which Henry used was the royal writ ... and any man who could by some fiction fit his own case to the wording of one of the royal writs might claim the King's justice.
The writ of habeas corpus was issued by a superior court in the name of the Monarch, and commanded the addressee (a lower court, sheriff, or private subject) to produce the prisoner before the Royal courts of law. Petitions for habeas corpus could be made by the prisoner himself or by a third party on his behalf, and as a result of the Habeas Corpus Acts could be made regardless of whether the court was in session, by presenting the petition to a judge.
The 1679 Act remains important in 21st century cases. This Act and the historical body of British practice that relies upon it has been used to interpret the habeas rights granted by the United States Constitution, while taking into account the understanding of the writ held by the framers of the Constitution.
The Suspension Clause of Article I does not expressly establish a right to the writ of habeas corpus; rather, it prevents Congress from restricting it. There has been much scholarly debate over whether the Clause positively establishes a right under the federal constitution, merely exists to prevent Congress from prohibiting state courts from granting the writ, or protects a pre-existing common law right enforceable by federal judges. However, in the cases of Immigration and Naturalization Service v. St. Cyr (2001), and Boumediene v. Bush (2008) the U.S. Supreme Court suggested that the Suspension Clause protects "the writ as it existed in 1789," that is, as a writ which federal judges could issue in the exercise of their common law authority.
Regardless of whether the writ is positively guaranteed by the constitution, habeas corpus was first established by statute in the Judiciary Act of 1789. This statutory writ applied only to those held in custody by officials of the executive branch of the federal government and not to those held by state governments, which independently afford habeas corpus pursuant to their respective constitutions and laws. From 1789 until 1866, the federal writ of habeas corpus was largely restricted to prisoners in federal custody, at a time when no direct appeals from federal criminal convictions were provided for by law. Habeas corpus remained the only means for judicial review of federal capital convictions until 1889, and the only means for review of federal convictions for other "infamous crimes" until 1891. Until 1983 the writ of habeas corpus remained the only way that decisions of military courts could be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
The authority of federal courts to review the claims of prisoners in state custody was not clearly established until Congress adopted a statute (28 U.S.C. § 2254) granting federal courts that authority in 1867, as part of the post-Civil War Reconstruction. The U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Waley v. Johnson (1942) interpreted this authority broadly to allow the writ to be used to challenge convictions or sentences in violation of a defendant's constitutional rights where no other remedy was available.
The U.S. Congress grants federal district courts, the Supreme Court, and all Article III federal judges, acting in their own right, jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to issue writs of habeas corpus to release prisoners held by any government entity within the country from custody, subject to certain limitations, if the prisoner –
In 1950s and 1960s, decisions by the Warren Court greatly expanded the use and scope of the federal writ largely due to the "constitutionalizing" of criminal procedure by applying the Bill of Rights, in part, to state courts using the incorporation doctrine. This afforded state prisoners many more opportunities to claim that their convictions were unconstitutional, which provided grounds for habeas corpus relief. In the last thirty years, decisions by the Burger and Rehnquist Courts have somewhat narrowed the writ.
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) further limited the use of the federal writ by imposing a one-year statute of limitations and dramatically increasing the federal judiciary's deference to decisions previously made in state court proceedings either on appeal or in a state court habeas corpus action. One of AEDPA's most controversial changes is the requirement that any constitutional right invoked to vacate a state court conviction rooted in a mistake of law by the state court must have "resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States." Thus, a U.S. Court of Appeals must ignore its own precedents and affirm a state court decision contrary to its precedents, if the U.S. Supreme Court has never squarely addressed a particular issue of federal law.
On April 27, 1861, the right of habeas corpus was unilaterally suspended by President Abraham Lincoln in Maryland during the American Civil War. Lincoln had received word that anti-war Maryland officials intended to destroy the railroad tracks between Annapolis and Philadelphia, which was a vital supply line for the army preparing to fight the south. (Indeed, soon after, the Maryland legislature would simultaneously vote to stay in the Union and to close these rail lines, in an apparent effort to prevent war between its northern and southern neighbors.) Lincoln did not issue a sweeping order; it only applied to the Maryland route. Lincoln chose to suspend the writ over a proposal to bombard Baltimore, favored by his General-in-Chief Winfield Scott. Lincoln was also motivated by requests by generals to set up military courts to rein in his political opponents, "Copperheads," or Peace Democrats, so named because they did not want to resort to war to force the southern states back into the Union, as well as to intimidate those in the Union who supported the Confederate cause. Congress was not yet in session to consider a suspension of the writs; however, when it came into session it failed to pass a bill favored by Lincoln to sanction his suspensions. During this period one sitting U.S. Congressman from the opposing party, as well as the mayor, police chief, entire Board of Police, and the city council of Baltimore were arrested without charge and imprisoned indefinitely without trial.
Lincoln's action was rapidly challenged in court and overturned by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Maryland (led by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roger B. Taney) in Ex Parte Merryman. Chief Justice Taney ruled the suspension unconstitutional, stating that only Congress could suspend habeas corpus. Lincoln and his Attorney General Edward Bates not only ignored the Chief Justice's order, but when Lincoln's dismissal of the ruling was criticized in an editorial by prominent Baltimore newspaper editor Frank Key Howard, they had the editor also arrested by federal troops without charge or trial. The troops imprisoned Howard, who was Francis Scott Key's grandson, in Fort McHenry, which, as he noted, was the same fort where the Star Spangled Banner had been waving "o'er the land of the free" in his grandfather's song. (In 1863, Howard wrote about his experience as a "political prisoner" at Fort McHenry in the book Fourteen Months in the American Bastille; two of the publishers selling the book were then arrested.)
When Congress convened in July 1861 it failed to support Lincoln's unilateral suspension of habeas corpus. A joint resolution was introduced into the Senate to approve of the president's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, but filibustering by Senate Democrats, who did not support it, and opposition to its imprecise wording by Sen. Lyman Trumbull prevented a vote on the resolution before the end of the first session, and the resolution was not taken up again. Sen. Trumbull himself introduced a bill to suspend habeas corpus, but failed on getting a vote before the end of the first session.
Shortly thereafter, on September 17, 1861, the day the Maryland legislature was to reconvene, Lincoln imprisoned pro-Confederate members of the Maryland General Assembly without charges or hearings in further defiance of the Chief Justice's ruling. Thus, the legislative session had to be cancelled.
On February 14, 1862, the war was firmly in progress and Lincoln ordered most prisoners released, putting an end to court challenges for the time being. He again suspended habeas corpus on his own authority in September that same year, however, in response to resistance to his calling up of the militia.
When Congress met again in December 1862, the House of Representatives passed a bill indemnifying the president for his suspension of habeas corpus. The Senate amended the bill, and the compromise reported out of the conference committee altered it to remove the indemnity and to suspend habeas corpus on Congress's own authority. That bill, the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act, was signed into law March 3, 1863. Lincoln exercised his powers under it in September, suspending habeas corpus throughout the Union in any case involving prisoners of war, spies, traitors, or military personnel, The suspension of habeas corpus remained in effect until Andrew Johnson revoked it on December 1, 1865.
General Ambrose E. Burnside had former-Congressman Clement Vallandigham arrested in May 1863 for continuing to express sympathy for the Confederate cause after having been warned to cease doing so. Vallandigham was tried by a military tribunal and sentenced to two years in a military prison. Lincoln quickly commuted his sentence to banishment to the Confederacy. Vallandigham appealed his sentence, arguing that the Enrollment Act did not authorize his trial by a military tribunal rather than in ordinary civilian courts, that he was not ordinarily subject to court martial, and that Gen. Burnside could not expand the jurisdiction of military courts on his own authority. The Supreme Court did not address the substance of Vallandigham's appeal, instead denying that it possessed the jurisdiction to review the proceedings of military tribunals without explicit congressional authorization.
In 1864, Lambdin P. Milligan and four others were accused of planning to steal Union weapons and invade Union prisoner-of-war camps and were sentenced to hang by a military court. However, their execution was not set until May 1865, so they were able to argue the case after the war ended. In Ex parte Milligan (1866), the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Congress's 1863 suspension of the writ did not empower the President to try to convict citizens before military tribunals where the civil courts were open and operational. This was one of the key Supreme Court Cases of the American Civil War that dealt with wartime civil liberties and martial law.
In the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis also suspended habeas corpus and imposed martial law. Shortly after his inauguration as president of the Confederacy, an act of the Confederate Congress of February 27, 1862, was passed authorizing Davis to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and declare martial law "in such towns, cities, and military districts as shall, in his judgment, be in such danger of attack by the enemy." The Confederate Congress passed a limiting act two months to restrict the suspension of the writ "to arrests made by the authorities of the Confederate Government, or for offences against the same" and to add a sunset clause providing that authorization to suspend habeas corpus would expire 30 days after the next meeting of Congress.
In various proclamations and orders beginning in 1862, Davis suspended the writ and declared martial law in parts of Virginia (including the Confederate capital of Richmond, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Petersburg, and elsewhere). Davis also suspended the writ in East Tennessee; in this region, Thomas A.R. Nelson was arrested by the Confederate military and held as a political prisoner before being released on the condition that he cease criticizing the Confederate government. Suspensions of civil process in the confederacy were used against suspected Unionists, particularly in border states. Historian Barton A. Myers notes that after the Confederacy imposed nationwide conscription, "the difference between arrest for political dissidence and conscription into the military became largely semantic, as anyone accused of Unionism was almost always first taken to a training camp where they were monitored and hazed under guard."
Davis also suspended the writ in North Carolina (June 1862) and in Atlanta (in September 1862). The Confederate Congress passed re-authorizing legislation twice more, in October 1862 and February 1864. Davis suspended habeas corpus in Arkansas and the Indian Territory in January 1863. Although Davis had initially been resistant to the idea, he suspended the writ after receiving a telegram from General Theophilus Holmes complaining that his region was filed with disloyal persons and deserters, and that he could not enforce conscription.
At least 2,672 civilians were subject to military arrest in the Confederacy over the course of its history; although this is likely an undercount given the incompleteness of records. Civil War historian Mark E. Neely Jr. suggests that "there seems to be no difference in the arrest rate in those periods when the Confederate Congress refuse to authorization suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and those periods was authorized. ... civilian prisoners trickled into Confederate military prisons whether the writ of habeas corpus was suspended or not."
The last suspension lapsed in August 1864, amid deep domestic opposition to the suspension, including from the Confederate vice president Alexander H. Stephens, Davis's political rival. Citing "discontent, disaffection, and disloyalty," Davis made entreaties in late 1864 and 1865 about the necessity of suspension, but bills to further suspend habeas corpus failed in the Confederate Senate.
Following the end of the Civil War, numerous groups arose in the South to oppose Reconstruction, including the Ku Klux Klan. In response, Congress passed the Enforcement Acts in 1870–71. One of these, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, permitted the president to suspend habeas corpus if conspiracies against federal authority were so violent that they could not be checked by ordinary means. That same year, President Ulysses S. Grant suspended the writ of habeas corpus in nine South Carolina counties; the Act's sunset clause ended that suspension with the close of the next regular session of Congress.
In response to continuing unrest, the Philippine Commission availed itself of an option in the Philippine Organic Act of 1902, 32 Stat. 692, and on January 31, 1905, requested that Governor-General Luke Edward Wright suspend the writ of habeas corpus. He did so the same day, and habeas corpus was suspended until he revoked his proclamation on October 15, 1905. The suspension gave rise to the United States Supreme Court case Fischer v. Baker, 203 U.S. 174 (1906).
Immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the governor of Hawaii Territory, Joseph Poindexter, at the specific request by LG Walter Short, US Army, invoked the Hawaiian Organic Act, 31 Stat. 141 (1900), suspended habeas corpus, and declared martial law. General Short was recalled to Washington, DC two weeks after the attack and subsequently Hawaii was governed by US Army Lieutenant Generals Delos Emmons, and Robert C. Richardson, Jr. for the remainder of the war. In Duncan v. Kahanamoku, 327 U.S. 304 (1946), the United States Supreme Court held that the declaration of martial law did not permit the trial of civilians in military tribunals for offenses unrelated to the military (in this case, public drunkenness).
In 1942, eight German saboteurs, including two U.S. citizens, who had secretly entered the United States to attack its civil infrastructure as part of Operation Pastorius were convicted by a secret military tribunal set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In Ex parte Quirin (1942), the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the writ of habeas corpus did not apply, and that the military tribunal had jurisdiction to try the saboteurs, due to their status as unlawful combatants.
The period of martial law in Hawaii ended in October 1944. It was held in Duncan v. Kahanamoku (1946) that although the initial imposition of martial law in December 1941 may have been lawful, due to the Pearl Harbor attack and threat of imminent invasion, by 1944 the imminent threat had receded and civilian courts could again function in Hawaii. The Organic Act therefore did not authorize the military to continue to keep civilian courts closed.
After the end of the war, several German prisoners held in American-occupied Germany petitioned the District Court for the District of Columbia for a writ of habeas corpus. In Johnson v. Eisentrager (1950) the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the American court system had no jurisdiction over German war criminals who had been captured in Germany, and had never entered U.S. soil.
In 1996, following the Oklahoma City bombing, Congress passed (91–8 in the Senate, 293–133 in the House) and President Clinton signed into law the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). The AEDPA was intended to "deter terrorism, provide justice for victims, provide for an effective death penalty, and for other purposes." The AEDPA introduced one of the few limitations on habeas corpus. For the first time, its Section 101 set a statute of limitations of one year following conviction for prisoners to seek the writ. The Act limits the power of federal judges to grant relief unless the state court's adjudication of the claim has resulted in a decision that
It barred second or successive petitions generally but with several exceptions. Petitioners who had already filed a federal habeas petition were required first to secure authorization from the appropriate United States Court of Appeals, to ensure that such an exception was at least facially made out.
The November 13, 2001, Presidential Military Order purported to give the President of the United States the power to detain non-citizens suspected of connection to terrorists or terrorism as enemy combatants. As such, that person could be held indefinitely, without charges being filed against him or her, without a court hearing, and without legal counsel. Many legal and constitutional scholars contended that these provisions were in direct opposition to habeas corpus, and the United States Bill of Rights and, indeed, in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004) the U.S. Supreme Court re-confirmed the right of every American citizen to access habeas corpus even when declared to be an enemy combatant. The Court affirmed the basic principle that habeas corpus could not be revoked in the case of a citizen.
In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006) Salim Ahmed Hamdan petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus, challenging that the military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay "violate both the UCMJ and the four Geneva Conventions." In a 5-3 ruling the Court rejected Congress's attempts to strip the court of jurisdiction over habeas corpus appeals by detainees at Guantánamo Bay. Congress had previously passed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2006 which stated in Section 1005(e), "Procedures for Status Review of Detainees Outside the United States":
(1) Except as provided in section 1005 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
(2)The jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on any claims with respect to an alien under this paragraph shall be limited to the consideration of whether the status determination ... was consistent with the standards and procedures specified by the Secretary of Defense for Combatant Status Review Tribunals (including the requirement that the conclusion of the Tribunal be supported by a preponderance of the evidence and allowing a rebuttable presumption in favor of the Government's evidence), and to the extent the Constitution and laws of the United States are applicable, whether the use of such standards and procedures to make the determination is consistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States.
On September 29, the U.S. House and Senate approved the Military Commissions Act of 2006, a bill which suspended habeas corpus for any alien determined to be an "unlawful enemy combatant engaged in hostilities or having supported hostilities against the United States" by a vote of 65-34. (This was the result on the bill to approve the military trials for detainees; an amendment to remove the suspension of habeas corpus failed 48-51.) President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) into law on October 17, 2006. With the MCA's passage, the law altered the language from "alien detained ... at Guantanamo Bay":
Except as provided in section 1005 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination." §1005(e)(1), 119 Stat. 2742.
The Supreme Court ruled in Boumediene v. Bush that the MCA amounts to an unconstitutional encroachment on habeas corpus rights, and established jurisdiction for federal courts to hear petitions for habeas corpus from Guantanamo detainees tried under the Act. Under the MCA, the law restricted habeas appeals for only those aliens detained as enemy combatants, or awaiting such determination. Left unchanged was the provision that, after such determination is made, it is subject to appeal in federal courts, including a review of whether the evidence warrants the determination. If the status was upheld, then their imprisonment was deemed lawful; if not, then the government could change the prisoner's status to something else, at which point the habeas restrictions no longer applied.
There is, however, no legal time limit which would force the government to provide a Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearing. Prisoners were, but are no longer, legally prohibited from petitioning any court for any reason before a CSRT hearing takes place.
In January 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee that in his opinion: "There is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There's a prohibition against taking it away." He was challenged by Sen. Arlen Specter who asked him to explain how it is possible to prohibit something from being taken away, without first being granted. Robert Parry wrote in the Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel:
Applying Gonzales's reasoning, one could argue that the First Amendment doesn't explicitly say Americans have the right to worship as they choose, speak as they wish or assemble peacefully. Ironically, Gonzales may be wrong in another way about the lack of specificity in the Constitution's granting of habeas corpus rights. Many of the legal features attributed to habeas corpus are delineated in a positive way in the Sixth Amendment ...
The Department of Justice has taken the position in litigation that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 does not amount to a suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed in a 2-1 decision, on February 20, 2007, which the U.S. Supreme Court initially declined to review. The U.S. Supreme Court then reversed its decision to deny review and took up the case in June 2007. In June 2008, the court ruled 5-4 that the act did suspend habeas and found it unconstitutional.
On June 7, 2007, the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with an 11–8 vote split along party lines, with all but one Republican voting against it. Although the Act would restore statutory habeas corpus to enemy combatants, it would not overturn the provisions of the AEDPA which set a statute of limitations on habeas corpus claims from ordinary civilian federal and state prisoners.
On June 11, 2007, a federal appeals court ruled that Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a legal resident of the United States, could not be detained indefinitely without charge. In a two-to-one ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the Court held the President of the United States lacks legal authority to detain al-Marri without charge; all three judges ruled that al-Marri is entitled to traditional habeas corpus protections which give him the right to challenge his detainment in a U.S. Court.
In July 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that "if properly designated an enemy combatant pursuant to the legal authority of the President, such persons may be detained without charge or criminal proceedings for the duration of the relevant hostilities."
On October 7, 2008, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled that 17 Uyghurs, Muslims from China's northwestern Xinjiang region, must be brought to appear in his court in Washington, DC, three days later: "Because the Constitution prohibits indefinite detentions without cause, the continued detention is unlawful."
On January 21, 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order regarding the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and the individuals held there. This order stated that the detainees "have the constitutional privilege of the writ of habeas corpus."
Following the December 1, 2011, vote by the United States Senate to reject an NDAA amendment proscribing the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens, the ACLU has argued that the legitimacy of Habeas Corpus is threatened: "The Senate voted 38-60 to reject an important amendment [that] would have removed harmful provisions authorizing the U.S. military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians, including American citizens, anywhere in the world... We're disappointed that, despite robust opposition to the harmful detention legislation from virtually the entire national security leadership of the government, the Senate said 'no' to the Udall amendment and 'yes' to indefinite detention without charge or trial." The New York Times has stated that the vote leaves the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens "ambiguous," with some senators including Carl Levin and Lindsey Graham arguing that the Supreme Court had already approved holding Americans as enemy combatants, and other senators, including Dianne Feinstein and Richard Durbin, asserting the opposite.
On April 20, 2015, a New York Supreme Court justice issued an order to "show cause & writ of habeas corpus" in a proceeding on behalf of two chimpanzees used in research at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The justice, Barbara Jaffe, amended her order later in the day by striking the reference to habeas corpus.
Habeas corpus is an action often taken after sentencing by a defendant who seeks relief for some perceived error in his criminal trial. There are a number of such post-trial actions and proceedings, their differences being potentially confusing, thus bearing some explanation. Some of the most common are an appeal to which the defendant has as a right, a writ of certiorari, a writ coram nobis and a writ of habeas corpus.
An appeal to which the defendant has a right cannot be abridged by the court which is, by designation of its jurisdiction, obligated to hear the appeal. In such an appeal, the appellant feels that some error has been made in his trial, necessitating an appeal. A matter of importance is the basis on which such an appeal might be filed: generally appeals as a matter of right may only address issues which were originally raised in trial (as evidenced by documentation in the official record). Any issue not raised in the original trial may not be considered on appeal and will be considered waived via estoppel. A convenient test for whether a petition is likely to succeed on the grounds of error is confirming that
A writ of certiorari, otherwise known simply as cert, is an order by a higher court directing a lower court to send record of a case for review, and is the next logical step in post-trial procedure. While states may have similar processes, a writ of cert is usually only issued, in the United States, by the Supreme Court, although some states retain this procedure. Unlike the aforementioned appeal, a writ of cert is not a matter of right. A writ of cert will have to be petitioned for, the higher court issuing such writs on limited bases according to constraints such as time. In another sense, a writ of cert is like an appeal in its constraints; it too may only seek relief on grounds raised in the original trial.
A petition for a writ of error coram nobis or error coram vobis challenges a final judgment in a criminal proceeding. Use of this type of petition varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but is usually limited to situations where it was not possible to raise this issue earlier on direct appeal. These petitions focus on issues outside the original premises of the trial, i.e., issues that require new evidence or those that could not otherwise be raised by direct appeal or writs of cert. These often fall in two logical categories: (1) that the trial lawyer was ineffectual or incompetent or (2) that some constitutional right has been violated.
In 2004, there were about 19,000 non-capital federal habeas corpus petitions filed and there were about 210 capital federal habeas corpus petitions filed in U.S. District Court. The vast majority of these were from state prisoners, not from those held in federal prisons. There are about 60 habeas corpus cases filed in the U.S. Supreme Court's original jurisdiction each year. The U.S. Courts of Appeal do not have original jurisdiction over habeas corpus petitions.
In 1992, less than 1% of federal habeas corpus petitions involved death penalty sentences, although 21% involved life sentences. At that time about 23% had been convicted of homicide, about 39% had been convicted of other serious violent crimes, about 27% had been convicted of serious non-violent crimes, and about 12% were convicted of other offenses. These are almost exclusively state offenses and thus petitions filed by state prisoners.
Exhaustion of state-court remedies often takes five to ten years after a conviction, so only state prisoners facing longer prison sentences are able to avail themselves of federal habeas corpus rights without facing a summary dismissal for failure to exhaust state remedies. The lack of state remedies to exhaust also means that the timeline for federal death penalty habeas review is much shorter than the timeline for state death penalty habeas review (which can drag on literally for decades).
In 2004, the percentage of federal habeas corpus petitions involving state death sentences was still about 1% of the total.
About 63% of issues raised in habeas corpus petitions by state court prisoners are dismissed on procedural grounds at the U.S. District Court level, and about 35% of those issues are dismissed based on the allegations in the petition on the merits (on the merits has a different meaning than what it's used for here). About 2% are either "remanded" to a state court for further proceedings (which poses an interesting problem of federalism – the federal court usually issues a writ to the state prison to release the prisoner, but only if the state court does not hold a certain proceeding within a certain time), or, far less frequently, resolved favorably to the prisoner on the merits outright. About 57% of habeas corpus issues dismissed on procedural grounds in 1992 were dismissed for a failure to exhaust state remedies.
Success rates are not uniform, however. James Liebman, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, stated in 1996 that his study found that when habeas corpus petitions in death penalty cases were traced from conviction to completion of the case that there was "a 40 percent success rate in all capital cases from 1978 to 1995." Similarly, a study by Ronald Tabek in a law review article puts the success rate in habeas corpus cases involving death row inmates even higher, finding that between "1976 and 1991, approximately 47% of the habeas petitions filed by death row inmates were granted." Most habeas corpus petitioners in death penalty cases are represented by attorneys, but most habeas corpus petitioners in non-death penalty cases represent themselves. This is because federal funds are not available to non-capital state habeas petitioners to pay for attorneys unless there is good cause, there being no federal right to counsel in such matters. However, in state capital cases, the federal government provides funding for the representation of all capital habeas petitioners.
Thus, about 20% of successful habeas corpus petitions involve death penalty cases.
These success rates predate major revisions in habeas corpus law that restricted the availability of federal habeas corpus relief when AEDPA was adopted in 1996, over a decade ago. Post-AEDPA, the great disparity in success rates remains, however, with the federal courts' overturning of state capital cases a major reason that many states have been unable to carry out a majority of capital sentences imposed and have long backlog lists.
The time required to adjudicate habeas corpus petitions varies greatly based upon factors including the number of issues raised, whether the adjudication is on procedural grounds or on the merits, and the nature of the claims raised.
In 1992, U.S. District Courts took an average of two and a half years to adjudicate habeas corpus petitions in death penalty cases raising multiple issues that were resolved on the merits, about half of that time-length for other multiple issue homicide cases, and about nine months in cases resolved on procedural grounds.
AEDPA was designed to reduce the disposition times of federal habeas corpus petitions. But AEDPA has a little impact in non-capital cases, where a majority of cases are dismissed on procedural grounds, very few prisoners prevail and most prisoners are not represented by attorneys. The disposition time in capital cases has actually increased 250% from the time of AEDPA's passage to 2004.
In 1991, the average number of federal habeas corpus petitions filed in the United States was 14 per 1,000 people in state prison, but this ranged greatly from state to state from a low of 4 per 1,000 in Rhode Island to a high of 37 per 1,000 in Missouri.
The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) produced a brief surge in the number of habeas corpus filings by state prisoners, as deadlines imposed by the act encouraged prisoners to file sooner than they might have otherwise done so, but this had run its course by 2000, and by 2004, habeas corpus petition filing rates per 1,000 prisoners was similar to pre-AEDPA filing rates.
Media related to Habeas corpus in the United States at Wikimedia Commons1861
was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar, the 1861st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 861st year of the 2nd millennium, the 61st year of the 19th century, and the 2nd year of the 1860s decade. As of the start of 1861, the Gregorian calendar was
12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.1861 in the United States
Events from the year 1861 in the United States. This year marked the beginning of the American Civil War.Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island () is located in San Francisco Bay, 1.25 miles (2.01 km) offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. The small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison, and a federal prison from 1934 until 1963. Beginning in November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of Native Americans from San Francisco, who were part of a wave of Native activism across the nation, with public protests through the 1970s. In 1972, Alcatraz became part of a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
Today, the island's facilities are managed by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area; it is open to tours. Visitors can reach the island in a little under 15 minutes by ferry ride from Pier 33, located between the San Francisco Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco. Hornblower Cruises and Events, operating under the name Alcatraz Cruises, is the official ferry provider to and from the island.
Alcatraz Island is home to the abandoned prison, the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States, early military fortifications, and natural features such as rock pools and a seabird colony (mostly western gulls, cormorants, and egrets). According to a 1971 documentary on the history of Alcatraz, the island measures 1,675 feet (511 m) by 590 feet (180 m) and is 135 feet (41 m) at highest point during mean tide. The total area of the island is reported to be 22 acres (8.9 ha).Landmarks on the island include the Main Cellhouse, Dining Hall, Lighthouse, the ruins of the Warden's House and Social Hall, Parade Grounds, Building 64, Water Tower, New Industries Building, Model Industries Building,
and the Recreation Yard.Alford plea
An Alford plea (also called a Kennedy plea in West Virginia, an Alford guilty plea and the Alford doctrine), in United States law, is a guilty plea in criminal court, whereby a defendant in a criminal case does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence. In entering an Alford plea, the defendant admits that the evidence presented by the prosecution would be likely to persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (also known as AEDPA), is an act of the United States Congress signed into law on April 24, 1996. The bill was introduced by then-Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and passed with broad bipartisan support by Congress (91-8 in the US Senate, 293-133 in the U.S. House of Representatives) following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.Although controversial for its changes to the law of habeas corpus in the United States (Title I), upheld in Felker v. Turpin, 518 U.S. 651 (1997), it also contained a number of provisions to "deter terrorism, provide justice for victims, provide for an effective death penalty, and for other purposes," in the words of the bill summary.Brewer v. Williams
Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387 (1977), is a decision by the United States Supreme Court that clarifies what constitutes "waiver" of the right to counsel for the purposes of the Sixth Amendment. Under Miranda v. Arizona, evidence obtained by police during interrogation of a suspect before he has been read his Miranda rights is inadmissible. Here, however, the defendant had been indicted in court and had asserted his desire to have counsel, thus his Sixth Amendment right to counsel had attached. At issue was whether a voluntary admission of incriminating facts in response to police statements made while the defendant was in custody and outside the presence of his lawyer constituted a waiver of this right to counsel.Brice Disque
General Brice Pursell Disque (July 19, 1879 – February 29, 1960) was a U.S. Army officer and businessman. He is best remembered for having headed the Spruce Production Division during World War I, for conceiving the idea of sending military troops to work in the logging industry to spur wartime wood production, and as the creator of a government-sponsored union, the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen.David Clarke (sheriff)
David Alexander Clarke Jr. (born August 21, 1956) is an American former law enforcement official who served as Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin from 2002 to 2017. In 2002, Clarke was appointed to the position by Governor Scott McCallum and later elected that same year to his first four-year term. He was reelected in November 2006, 2010 and 2014. Although registered and elected as a Democrat in a heavily Democratic county, many of Clarke's political views align with those of conservative Republicans.Clarke frequently appeared as a guest on Fox News through February 2018 and was a speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention. He resigned as sheriff in August 2017. A vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, Clarke was considered for a role in the Trump Administration. After resigning as Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Clarke joined the super PAC America First Action as a spokesman and senior advisor, serving until February 2019.Duro v. Reina
Duro v. Reina, 495 U.S. 676 (1990), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court concluded that Indian tribes could not prosecute Indians who were members of other tribes for crimes committed by those nonmember Indians on their reservations. The decision was not well received by the tribes, because it defanged their criminal codes by depriving them of the power to enforce them against anyone except their own members. In response, Congress amended a section of the Indian Civil Rights Act, 25 U.S.C. § 1301, to include the power to "exercise criminal jurisdiction over all Indians" as one of the powers of self-government.Fort Alcatraz
Fort Alcatraz was a United States Army coastal fortification on Alcatraz Island near the mouth of San Francisco Bay in California, part of the Third System of fixed fortifications, although very different from most other Third System works. Initially completed in 1859, it was also used for mustering and training recruits and new units for the Civil War from 1861 and began secondary use as a long-term military prison in 1868. Major improvements, needed because of changes in artillery, began in the 1870s, but were underfunded and never fully completed, as the post came to be seen less as defense and more as jail. The site was not used for any major works of the Endicott Board’s plan for the defense of the Bay.A large concrete prison block was erected between 1910 and 1912. In 1933–1934, this was modernized and became the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary.Habeas Corpus Suspension Act (1863)
The Habeas Corpus Suspension, 12 Stat. 755 (1863), entitled An Act relating to Habeas Corpus, and regulating Judicial Proceedings in Certain Cases, was an Act of Congress that authorized the president of the United States to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in response to the American Civil War and provided for the release of political prisoners. It began in the House of Representatives as an indemnity bill, introduced on December 5, 1862, releasing the president and his subordinates from any liability for having suspended habeas corpus without congressional approval. The Senate amended the House's bill, and the compromise reported out of the conference committee altered it to qualify the indemnity and to suspend habeas corpus on Congress's own authority. Abraham Lincoln signed the bill into law on March 3, 1863, and suspended habeas corpus under the authority it granted him six months later. The suspension was partially lifted with the issuance of Proclamation 148 by Andrew Johnson, and the Act became inoperative with the end of the Civil War. The exceptions to his Proclamation 148 were the States of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, the District of Columbia, and the Territories of New Mexico and Arizona.Lefkowitz v. Newsome
Lefkowitz v. Newsome, 420 U.S. 283 (1975), is a U.S. Supreme Court case which held that when state law permits a defendant to plead guilty without giving up his right to judicial review of specified constitutional issues, such as the lawfulness of a search or the voluntariness of a confession, the defendant is not prevented from pursuing those constitutional claims in a federal habeas corpus proceeding.Lockyer v. Andrade
Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003), decided the same day as Ewing v. California (a case with a similar subject matter), held that there would be no relief by means of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus from a sentence imposed under California's three strikes law as a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments. Relying on the reasoning of Ewing and Harmelin v. Michigan, the Court ruled that because no "clearly established" law held that a three-strikes sentence was cruel and unusual punishment, the 50-years-to-life sentence imposed in this case was not cruel and unusual punishment.Oklahoma City bombing
The Oklahoma City bombing was a domestic terrorist truck bombing on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States on April 19, 1995. Perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the bombing happened at 9:02 am and killed at least 168 people, injured more than 680 others, and destroyed one-third of the building. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 cars, causing an estimated $652 million worth of damage. Extensive rescue efforts were undertaken by local, state, federal, and worldwide agencies in the wake of the bombing, and substantial donations were received from across the country. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) activated 11 of its Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, consisting of 665 rescue workers who assisted in rescue and recovery operations. Until the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United States, and remains the deadliest incident of domestic terrorism in the country's history.
Within 90 minutes of the explosion, McVeigh was stopped by Oklahoma Highway Patrolman Charlie Hanger for driving without a license plate and arrested for illegal weapons possession. Forensic evidence quickly linked McVeigh and Nichols to the attack; Nichols was arrested, and within days, both were charged. Michael and Lori Fortier were later identified as accomplices. McVeigh, a veteran of the Gulf War and a U.S. militia movement sympathizer, had detonated a Ryder rental truck full of explosives parked in front of the building. His co-conspirator, Nichols, had assisted with the bomb's preparation. Motivated by his dislike for the U.S. federal government and unhappy about its handling of the Ruby Ridge incident in 1992 and the Waco siege in 1993, McVeigh timed his attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the deadly fire that ended the siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.The official investigation, known as "OKBOMB", saw FBI agents conduct 28,000 interviews, amass 3.5 short tons (3,200 kg) of evidence, and collected nearly one billion pieces of information. The bombers were tried and convicted in 1997. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001 at the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, and Nichols was sentenced to life in prison in 2004. Michael and Lori Fortier testified against McVeigh and Nichols; Michael was sentenced to 12 years in prison for failing to warn the United States government, and Lori received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony.
As a result of the bombing, the U.S. Congress passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which tightened the standards for habeas corpus in the United States, as well as legislation designed to increase the protection around federal buildings to deter future terrorist attacks. On April 19, 2000, the Oklahoma City National Memorial was dedicated on the site of the Murrah Federal Building, commemorating the victims of the bombing. Remembrance services are held every year on April 19, at the time of the explosion.Rumsfeld v. Padilla
Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426 (2004), was a United States Supreme Court case, in which José Padilla, an American citizen, sought habeas corpus relief against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, as a result of his detention by the military as an "unlawful combatant."
On May 8, 2002, Padilla, a U.S. citizen, flew from Pakistan to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. As he left the plane, Padilla was apprehended by federal agents executing a material witness warrant issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in connection with its grand jury investigation into the September 11th attacks by terrorists. Initially Padilla was considered a "material witness," without charges filed, and given very limited access to legal counsel. He was later classified as an "enemy combatant," which, the Bush administration claimed as justification to imprison him indefinitely, and without legal recourse or access, as with non-citizen suspects in the war on terror.
Padilla's attorney, Donna Newman, claiming to act as his next friend and on his behalf, filed a petition for habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. On December 4, 2002, the court denied the petition and held that the President of the United States, as Commander-in-Chief had the authority to designate as an "enemy combatant" an American citizen captured on American soil, and, through the Secretary of Defense, to detain him for the duration of armed conflict with al-Qaida.
The case was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which held that the President lacked the authority to order the military detentions of American citizens captured on American soil.The case was petitioned to the United States Supreme Court. The principal issue before the Court was whether the Congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force post September 11 gave the president the powers to detain a United States citizen under military custody by classifying the detainee as an "enemy combatant." Otherwise, the president would run afoul of the Non-Detention Act, which provides that "No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.The Court did not decide this issue. Instead, the Court held that the habeas corpus petition had been improperly filed. It ruled that because Padilla was being held in a brig (military prison) in South Carolina, the petition should have been filed in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina and should have named the commander of the brig and not the Secretary of Defense (because the brig commander was Padilla's "immediate custodian"). The Court reversed the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and remanded the case for dismissal without prejudice - that is, it overruled the Court of Appeals decision and ordered the dismissal of the case, allowing Padilla to refile the petition. Thus the principal issue of the case had not been resolved.
Paul Clement, Principal Deputy Solicitor General at the time, gave oral argument for the United States (Rumsfeld); Jennifer Martinez, a law professor and human rights lawyer, gave oral argument on behalf of Padilla and Newman.Thompson v. Keohane
Thompson v. Keohane, 516 U.S. 99 (1995), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) does not apply in custody rulings for Miranda.United States ex rel. Murphy v. Porter
United States ex rel. Murphy v. Porter, 2 Hawy. & H. 394, 27 F. Cas. 599, was a case decided by the United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia in October 1861.United States v. Morgan (1954)
United States v. Morgan, 346 U.S. 502 (1954), is a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court which provides the writ of coram nobis as the proper application to request federal post-conviction judicial review for those who have completed the conviction's incarceration.War Governors' Conference
The Loyal War Governors' Conference was an important political event of the American Civil War. It was held at the Logan House Hotel in Altoona, Pennsylvania, on September 24 and 25, 1862. Thirteen governors of Union states came together to discuss the war effort, state troop quotas, and the ultimate support of President Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation. The leaders also suggested the removal of General George B. McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac. The meeting was established and hosted by Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin, who was a staunch defender of the war effort and Lincoln Administration policies. Ultimately, the event provided Lincoln much-needed support from the Northern states.
Criminal procedure (investigation)
|Charges and pleas|