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About the Site

If I know my Latin, which I don’t, habeas corruptus refers to the act of showing a corrupted body. The original legal term, of course, is “habeas corpus,” a statute conceived in 17th century England as habeas corpus ad subjiciendum, which empowered a defendant, wrongly accused or not, to demand a new dispensation, new trial, a reconsideration. “Show why this body is being held!” cried the statute. The right to a petition of habeas corpus, wrote Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, was “a beacon of individual liberty against the gloom of tyrannical government,” and when it leapt the ocean to the New World, where “royal governors were known to lock up ‘troublemakers,’” the local courts, O’Connor wrote, “were known to issue writs of habeas corpus to release those troublemakers.”