Habeas Corpus Act

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Habeas Corpus Act


a law adopted by the English Parliament in 1679. One of the basic constitutional acts of Great Britain, the Habeas Corpus Act established rules governing detention and the presentation of an accused person in court, and it gave the court the right to review the legality of specific cases of arrest and detention.

According to the act, if a detained person presents a statement in which he gives sworn testimony substantiating the injustice of his detention, the judge must issue within a certain amount of time a writ requiring that the person be brought before the court for the consideration of his statement. The statement is examined by the judge in the presence of the prisoner; the judge has the right to free the prisoner—either unconditionally or on bail—or, if just cause of arrest is established, to return him to detention. The provisions of the Habaes Corpus Act do not extend to persons accused of treason. The act may be suspended by Parliament under extreme circumstances, such as war, strikes, or internal unrest.

The Habeas Corpus Act gave legislative force to the practice of habeas corpus that was followed in England as early as the 12th century. In accordance with the practice, a person could request of a court or judge an explanation of the basis for his deprivation of liberty. The term “habeas corpus” derives from the Latin phrase habeas corpus ad subjiciendum—the opening words of the writ for the presentation of the person in court.

In the USA, the practice of habeas corpus was followed as early as the colonial period. It was provided for in the Constitution of 1787 and the constitutions of the individual states after independence was won. According to the constitution, Congress has the power to suspend the guaranty of habeas corpus; however, the president may also claim the power if national security is threatened—that is, in practically any case.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Although the Habeas Corpus Act lacked direct application in the American Colonies, colonial courts granted the writ according to common-law principles because Americans asserted the privilege as one of "the rights of Englishmen" to which they were entitled.
By the late 17th century, particularly after the passage of the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, the writ ad subjiciendum became the primary safeguard against all illegal detention.
(102.) In part, the link between habeas and criminal confinement is due to the celebrated Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, 31 Car.
Moreover, the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, though limited to criminal matters, protected all inhabitants of England, including nonenemy aliens, from being sent abroad as prisoners without their consent.
The common law writ also played an important role in placing further limits on executive power, sparking the Habeas Corpus Act of 1640, 16 Car., ch.
(85.) For the sake of clarity, this Note uses the terms "at common law," "common law history," and "common law habeas" to refer to the writ generally--that is, to English cases decided under both the various habeas corpus acts and the common law form of the writ.
One is textual: the fact that the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 contained no limitation to the applicability of habeas in times of war.
Tyler notes that "much of [the] legal framework" connected with the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 was "not so much the result of a deep concern for civil liberties per se, but represented instead the product of a concerted effort by Parliament to protect its privileges and wrestle control of such matters from the monarch" (p.
If one assumes that both at common law and under the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 the writ was taken to be available at all times, not just tranquil times, then suspension, even in a perceived national emergency, becomes a grave matter and a deviation from the normal legal framework.
He discussed the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, maintaining that its principal purpose was to prevent officials from detaining persons without precise charges against them and to prevent judges from excessively delaying in granting their discharges.
State statutory provisions closely tracked the English Habeas Corpus Act of 1679,(127) which prescribed specific remedies and civil penalties against legal authorities who did not answer the writ.
At common law and under the famous Habeas Corpus Act or 1679 the use of the Great Writ against official restraints was simply to ensure that a person was not held without formal charges and that once charged he was either bailed or brought to trial within a specified time.