Friday, August 1, 2014

Wilkes on Habeas Petitions in the Reign of James I

Donald E. Wilkes, Jr., University of Georgia Law School, has posted Habeas Corpus Proceedings in the High Court of Parliament in the Reign of James I, 1603-1625, which appears in the American Journal of Legal History 54 (2014): 200-63.  Here is the abstract:
English parliamentary habeas corpus proceedings have been neglected by scholars. This Article ends that neglect. This Article focuses on the parliamentary habeas corpus proceedings that occurred in the reign of King James. The Article corrects several misunderstandings relating to the history of the writ of habeas corpus in England and to the history of the English Parliament (which in the seventeenth century commonly was referred to as the High Court of Parliament).

Part I of the Article provides answers to questions concerning the historical background and context of the parliamentary habeas corpus proceedings in the High Court of Parliament during James I's reign. What was the origin and significance of the term High Court of Parliament? What was the parliamentary privilege of freedom from arrest, the violation of which could lead to the granting of habeas corpus relief by the House of Lords or the House of Commons? What was the civil arrest system in effect in seventeenth century Englanda system which made it likely that from time to time the parliamentary privilege from arrest would be violated and the parliamentary habeas remedy thereupon invoked? What other remedies, apart from habeas corpus, were available to deal with infringements of the parliamentary arrest privilege? And what were the contours of the parliamentary habeas corpus remedy itself, which appears not to have been successfully invoked prior to the reign of James I?

Parts II and III conclusively demonstrate that in the reign of James I the High Court of Parliament at times functioned as the High Habeas Court of Parliament. Part II provides an in-depth account of the habeas corpus proceedings in the House of Lords in the reign of James I, while Part III does the same for the habeas corpus proceedings in the House of Commons during the reign.

The Article concludes with a detailed discussion of the three major changes this work mandates in our understanding of English legal history.

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