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Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus is a Latin term meaning “you have the body.”  A petition for habeas corpus is most frequently filed when prisoners seek relief against illegal confinement and when a person seeks release of another person.  Even if the writ of habeas corpus is often used as a post-conviction remedy, it protects persons from causing harm to themselves, or from being harmed by the judicial system.  The writ is also used to obtain review of the regularity of administrative actions.

The writ of habeas corpus is of greater significance in obtaining judicial review of allegedly unconstitutional agency action notwithstanding statutory provisions making such agency action final.  The following are the areas where habeas corpus is employed to obtain judicial review of administrative decisions:

  • Deportation and admission of aliens.
  • Unlawful detention and confinement of individuals in the military.
  • Confinement, treatment and discipline of prisoners of correctional facilities.
  • Propriety of hospital regulations.

The applicant should have exhausted all the administrative remedies and satisfy the requirements of the judicial code, before a court can grant a writ of habeas corpus.  In Greene v. Bragg, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50631 (W.D. Tex. Apr. 13, 2009), the court stated that when an administrative agency has an opportunity to rectify its own errors, a judicial controversy may be very well debated, or the step-by-step appeals may be avoided.

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