Law of Habeas Corpus
Habeas corpus is the principal means under the common law for the protection of personal liberty. By this ancient writ, the court assumes control over the body of a prisoner so it can discharge him or her to freedom if no proper legal cause can be shown for detention. Habeas corpus secures release from any form of unlawful custody, whether decreed by the highest powers of the state or imposed by the lowest slave-trader. Its reach is as diverse as the forms of confinement. Throughout its history, it has proved adept at adapting to new challenges. It extends beyond the prison wall and has been invoked to determine the proper parental custody of a child and to free patients wrongly detained for compulsory medical treatment, indentured workers, conscripted soldiers, as well as individuals wrongly held in the war on terrorism. Looking first at the historical development of the writ, the book traces its growth in significance until its emergence as a cornerstone of the rule of law. Having established habeas corpus as a central constitutional principle, the volume goes on to examine the role and limits of the remedy today. It describes the modern workings of habeas corpus and assesses its contemporary scope and function. The authors explore the relationship between habeas corpus and fundamental rights. Critically surveying the nature of judicial review on habeas corpus, the book investigates past, present, and potential future uses of the writ, providing a comprehensive statement of current English law and a discussion of the position in other Commonwealth countries.