Making habeas work : a legal history

Freedman, Eric M., author
Gbs preview button

Publication Details Click to collapse Cite/Export

  • Creator Eric M. Freedman
  • Format Books
  • Publication New York : New York University Press, [2018]
  • Physical Details
    • viii, 197 pages ; 24 cm
  • ISBNs 9781479870974, 1479870978
  • OCLC on1005805637


  • "Habeas corpus, the storied Great Writ of Liberty, is a judicial order that requires government officials to produce a prisoner in court, persuade an independent judge of the correctness of their claimed factual and legal justifications for the individual's imprisonment, or else release the captive. Frequently the officials resist being called to account. Much of the history of the rule of law, including the history being made today, has emerged from the resulting clashes. This book, heavily based on primary sources from the colonial and early national periods and significant original research in the New Hampshire State Archives, enriches our understanding of the past and draws lessons for the present. Using dozens of previously unknown examples, Professor Freedman shows how the writ of habeas corpus has been just one part of an intricate machinery for securing freedom under law, and explores the lessons this history holds for some of today's most pressing problems including terrorism, the Guantanamo Bay detentions, immigration, Brexit, and domestic violence. Exploring landmark cases of the past - like that of John Peter Zenger - from new angles and expanding the definition of habeas corpus from a formal one to a functional one, Making Habeas Work brings to light the stories of many people previously overlooked (like the free black woman Zipporah, defendant in "the case of the headless baby") because their cases did not bear the label "habeas corpus." The resulting insights lead to forward-thinking recommendations for strengthening the rule of law to insure that it endures into the future." -- Publisher's website.
  • Eric M. Freedman "Making Habeas Work: A Legal History" explores habeas corpus, a judicial order that requires a person under arrest to be brought before an independent judge or into court. In his book, Freedman critically discusses habeas corpus as a common law writ, as a legal remedy and as an instrument of checks and balances.


  • Includes bibliographical references and index.


  • Part I. Habeas corpus as a common law writ -- Knowing habeas corpus when you see it -- Habeas corpus with and without the writ : some illustrative cases -- The benefits of a functional view : the past educating the present -- Part II. Habeas corpus as a legal remedy -- Captain Hodsdon's legal entanglements -- The habeas corpus strand of restraints on government -- The damages actions strands of restraints on government -- The criminal prosecution strands of restraints on government -- Interweaving actions -- The connecting strand : the jury -- The dual strand : legislative intervention -- Part III. Habeas corpus as an instrument of checks and balances -- Separation of powers : allocation of roles v. checks and balances -- Courts in the new nation : a tempestuous beginning -- John Marshall's sea mine: Ex Parte Bollman and the precatory suspension clause -- Courts weather the storm -- Boumediene defuses Bollman
Checking the Web...