habeas corpus

noun
ha·​be·​as cor·​pus | \ ˈhā-bē-əs-ˈkȯr-pəs How to pronounce habeas corpus (audio) \

Essential Meaning of habeas corpus

law : an order to bring a jailed person before a judge or court to find out if that person should really be in jail apply for a writ of habeas corpus

Full Definition of habeas corpus

1 : any of several common-law writs issued to bring a party before a court or judge especially : habeas corpus ad subjiciendum
2 : the right of a citizen to obtain a writ of habeas corpus as a protection against illegal imprisonment

Did you know?

The literal meaning of habeas corpus is "You shall have the body"—that is, the judge must have the person charged with a crime brought into the courtroom to hear what he's been charged with. Through much of human history, and in many countries still today, a person may be imprisoned on the orders of someone in the government and kept behind bars for years without ever getting a chance to defend himself, or even knowing what he's done wrong. In England, the right to be brought before a judge to hear the charges and answer them was written into law over 300 years ago, and the U.S. adopted the British practice in its Constitution.

Examples of habeas corpus in a Sentence

apply for a writ of habeas corpus
Recent Examples on the Web The US Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that detainees at the Guantanamo prison did have the right to habeas corpus, but several habeas challenges to detentions at the facility have failed in the past decade, Plochocki said. Ellie Kaufman, CNN, 21 Oct. 2021 The prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, who has never been charged with a crime, has been waiting 14 years for a federal judge to rule on his habeas corpus petition that challenges the legality of his detention. Raymond Bonner, ProPublica, 6 Oct. 2021 Three months later, a Marin County Superior Court judge held evidentiary hearings on more than 300 habeas corpus petitions filed over San Quentin’s handling of COVID-19. Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 Sep. 2021 There are still exams and DNA tests pending, and Iparraguire, Guzmán’s widow, has filed a habeas corpus in a bid to delay the cremation, accusing the state of murdering her husband. Daniel Alarcón, The New Yorker, 19 Sep. 2021 The justices determined that Boumediene and other detainees were entitled to habeas corpus, the constitutional right of anyone detained in America to know the reasons for their arrest and detention. Josh Margolin, ABC News, 9 Sep. 2021 After ratification, Congress denied trial by jury and habeas corpus protections to Blacks in free states who were accused of being runaway enslaved people, effectively permitting kidnappings. Washington Post, 25 June 2021 Chemerinsky noted the Supreme Court overturned several 9th Circuit cases on immigration and habeas corpus, the legal vehicle for releasing someone in detention. David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, 13 July 2021 Lawyers for the Pentagon and the State Department are said to have pressed to declare that the clause protects detainees in the context of habeas corpus proceedings — while also saying that the standard had been met. Charlie Savage, New York Times, 9 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'habeas corpus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of habeas corpus

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for habeas corpus

Middle English, from Medieval Latin, literally, you should have the body (the opening words of the writ)

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Last Updated

6 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Habeas corpus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/habeas%20corpus. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for habeas corpus

habeas corpus

noun
habeas cor·​pus | \ -ˈkȯr-pəs, -ˌpu̇s How to pronounce habeas corpus (audio) \

Legal Definition of habeas corpus

: any of several writs originating at common law that are issued to bring a party before the court especially : habeas corpus ad subjiciendum in this entry 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 U.S. Constitution art. I
habeas corpus ad faciendum et recipiendum \ -​ˌad-​ˌfa-​sē-​ˈen-​dəm-​et-​ri-​ˌsi-​pē-​ˈen-​dəm, -​ˌfa-​shē-​ˈen-​; -​ˌäd-​ˌfä-​kē-​ˈen-​du̇m-​et-​rā-​ˌkē-​pē-​ˈen-​du̇m \ New Latin, literally, you should have the body for doing and receiving
: habeas corpus cum causa in this entry
habeas corpus ad prosequendum \ -​ˌad-​ˌprä-​si-​ˈkwen-​dəm, -​ˌäd-​ˌprō-​sā-​ˈkwen-​du̇m \ New Latin, literally, you should have the body for prosecuting
: a writ for removing a prisoner for trial in the jurisdiction of the issuing court where the prisoner committed a crime
habeas corpus ad subjiciendum \ -​ˌad-​səb-​ˌji-​sē-​ˈen-​dəm, -​ˌji-​shē-​; -​ˌäd-​su̇b-​ˌyi-​kē-​ˈen-​du̇m How to pronounce habeas corpus (audio) \ New Latin, literally, you should have the body for submitting
: an extraordinary writ issued upon a petition challenging the lawfulness of restraining a person who is imprisoned or otherwise in another's custody

called also the Great Writ

Note: Habeas corpus ad subjiciendum is an extraordinary remedy, and is by far the most frequently used writ of habeas corpus. It is an independent civil action and a form of collateral attack to determine not the guilt or innocence of the person held in custody, but whether the custody is unlawful under the U.S. Constitution. Common grounds for relief under the writ include a conviction based on illegally obtained evidence, a denial of effective assistance of counsel, or a conviction by a jury that was improperly selected and impaneled. The degree of restraint on a person's liberty that is necessary to constitute custody entitling a person to habeas corpus relief is not viewed uniformly by the courts. Use of the writ is not limited to criminal matters. It is also available in civil matters, as, for example, to challenge a person's custody of a child or the institutionalization of a person declared incompetent.

habeas corpus ad testificandum \ -​ˌad-​ˌtes-​ti-​fi-​ˈkan-​dəm, -​ˌäd-​ˌtes-​tē-​fē-​ˈkän-​du̇m \ New Latin, literally, you should have the body for testifying
: a writ for bringing a person into a court as a witness
habeas corpus cum causa \ -​ˌkəm-​ˈkȯ-​zə, -​ˌku̇m-​ˈkau̇-​sä \ New Latin, literally, you should have the body with the cause
: a writ issued from a superior court to an inferior court requiring that a defendant be produced along with the cause for which the defendant has been taken and held

called also habeas corpus ad faciendum et recipiendum

History and Etymology for habeas corpus

Medieval Latin, literally, you should have the body (the opening words of the writ)

More from Merriam-Webster on habeas corpus

Nglish: Translation of habeas corpus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about habeas corpus

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