This is a decent definition. Keep in mind that it is kind of complicated, and these days habeas
is far more likely to be used when someone is in jail and looking to make a Federal claim of unlawful detention when their state remedies have been exhausted -
Latin for "that you have the body." In the US system, federal courts can use the writ of habeas corpus to determine if a state's detention of a prisoner is valid. A writ of habeas corpus is used to bring a prisoner or other detainee (e.g. institutionalized mental patient) before the court to determine if the person's imprisonment or detention is lawful. A habeas petition proceeds as a civil action against the State agent (usually a warden) who holds the defendant in custody. It can also be used to examine any extradition processes used, amount of bail, and the jurisdiction of the court.
See, e.g. Knowles v. Mirzayance 556 U.S.___(2009), Felker v. Turpin 518 US 1051 (1996) and McCleskey v. Zant 499 US 467 (1991).
The concept behind it is that we can't just jail people indefinitely in the United States. There has to be a real-live jury or judge-led trial judgment against her. You know, a regular old ruling.
In Craig v. Hecht
(44 US Sup Ct. 103, 1923), it was ruled that the only way someone found in contempt (and thereby jailed) could get a writ of habeas corpus
was when the court did not have proper jurisdiction. It's not likely that that would happen here.
At least as of 1983, Craig
was considered good law and was not overturned.
If I were her lawyer (and I'm glad I'm not), I would petition the US Supreme Court to consider whether Craig
should be overturned.
And if I were on the US Supreme Court, I would vote to uphold Craig
, as the intent behind that ruling was to prevent this precise situation, a person trying to weasel out of a compliance order, being given the opportunity to leave jail if they agreed to comply, and then not doing so. Habeas
isn't intended to work like a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card.