- Author unknown: H A B E A S C O R P U S History and Definition The dictionary definition in Black s Law Dictionary is definitely NOT the definition you shouldMessage 1 of 1 , May 13, 2003View Source
H A B E A S C O R P U S
History and Definition
The dictionary definition in Black's Law Dictionary is definitely NOT the definition you should use. It's more a secondary definition. The primary definition of H.C. is not in the dictionaries, but rather, it is in the history books.
In the early days (before Magna Carta), the king had many court systems operating: e.g. common law court, equity court, admiralty court, court of the exchequer, etc. Each court had its jurisdiction defined. Of course, courts are nothing but bureaucracies, like any other bureaucracy, and they would always want to expand their jurisdictions. If a court went beyond its jurisdiction, a person could go to the proper court that had jurisdiction on the subject matter, and ask that it order the errant court to keep hands off. The term "habeas corpus" translates into "you have the body" and basically was a phrase put at the end of pleadings to the second court asking that the first court produce the body if it was being held.
Of course, you can see that this would pit one court bureaucracy against another. The Habeas Corpus worked quite well because, as long as the defendant was not a common enemy to both bureaucracies, one bureaucracy would not miss any opportunity to put down a competing bureaucracy. The practical result of all this is that the defendant would often be ordered released, which was the second court's way of telling the first court that it didn't know what it was doing and had strayed from it's original jurisdiction (i.e.exceeded jurisdiction). The habeas corpus, over the centuries, became known as the "Great Writ of Liberty," and I'm certain that you can see why.
In summary, habeas corpus is the process of one court sitting in judgment of another court's jurisdiction. It is NOT a civil or criminal proceeding, but rather it is a family fight between courts. That is why, even though you find habeas corpus rules in the civil procedure books (FRCP and Calif CCP) the procedures stand alone independent of the rest of the procedures in those codes. The reason is obvious: Why would a court burden itself with procedural requirements? That stuff is ok for people outside the court system who want to get it (i.e. plaintiffs, defendants, and attorneys) but not ok for judges themselves.
When you move for H.C., you are opening your own court, which is separate and distinct from their court. You are sitting in judgment of the jurisdiction of their court. When you order them to produce the injured party and to demonstrate the injury, and when they fail to produce, then you can issue your own order to dismiss their case. Your court is a " common law" court and takes precedent over their equity court. You should also, before all that, send them a bill for their claims against you. The bill serves as a bond for their claims when you judge their jurisdiction. This info comes from Elvick's materials.
The billing is a very important part of it. It puts the teeth into habeas corpus. Basically, you are putting a claim on them without admitting an injury. You NEVER want to admit any injury. Instead, you put the bond (bill) on their claim against you. They want you to admit an injury, because then that satisfies the requirements of habeas corpus. You could be standing before a magistrate, with both arms broken and a pool of blood around your feet, but when they ask you if you are injured, the answer is always "no, I'm not injured. I'm merely undergoing a reasonable inquisition in search of the injured party. However, if it is determined that there is no injured party, then I could become an injured party after that determination because I would have undergone that inquiry without reasonable cause. However, at the present, I'm not injured and am only undergoing a reasonable inquiry. Sir magistrate, where is the injured party who is causing this inquiry?"
BOUVIER'S LAW DICTIONARY
HABEAS CORPUS, remedies: A writ of habeas corpus is an order in writing, signed by the judge who grants the same, and sealed with the seal of the court of which he is a judge, issued in the name of the sovereign power where it is granted, by such a court or a judge thereof, having lawful authority to issue the same, directed to any one having a person in his custody or under his restraint, commanding him to produce, such person at a certain time and place, and to state the reasons why he is held in custody, or under restraint.