St. Mary's Law Journal


Applications for issuance of writs of habeas corpus are among the most frequently filed petitions in federal courts. The substantial number of applications may be attributed to the fact that habeas corpus can be the fastest and most effective method which the law provides to insure an individual’s liberty. However, there are still areas within its framework that are unsettled. Specifically, there are two primary unsettled problems existing in federal habeas corpus proceedings, which include the certificate of probable cause and whether the federal rules apply to habeas corpus proceedings. The primary purpose of this article is to explain the requirements for the application and issuance of the federal writ of habeas corpus and to discuss the issues that remain unsettled in federal proceedings. A writ of habeas corpus is broadly defined as a court order directing the respondent to produce the petitioner before the court at a certain time to determine the legality of the restraint on the petitioner’s liberty. The purpose of a writ of habeas corpus is to test in court the executive, judicial, or private restraint of an individual’s liberty. A court may respond to the petition by: (1) granting the writ; (2) issuing an order to the respondent to show cause; or (3) granting the relief. The areas of confusion existing in habeas corpus proceedings must be clarified by remedies which would promote faster and more efficient proceedings. Such considerations for improvement should never be taken to the extent that habeas corpus would be limited to a “static, narrow, formalistic remedy” for the petitioner.


St. Mary's University School of Law