Writ of Habeas Corpus Coursework

The writ of habeas corpus is a to convicts who have exhausted their right to appeal. It is an essential, lawful protection of the liberty of a person. Neubauer (2006) states that as a court order, it requires a detained person to be produced and an explanation as to why the person is detained be given.

This writ is different from an appeal in that, first, it is only available to a person who is in prison. Secondly, whereas appeals are grounded on technical matters, the writ can be based on constitutional faultiness. Finally, unlike in appeal which is limited to objections advanced at the time of trial, the premise of the writ is broad since the petitioner can . He/she can assert constitutional protection, notwithstanding that it was not available during the trial. Neubauer (2006) affirms that under the writ a petitioner can also contest circumstances of his/her detainment. Moreover, a convict can file numerous petitions for habeas depending on the available levels of the judicial system.

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The case of House v. Bell 547 U.S. 518 (2006) illustrates the above facts.


According to House v. Bell 547 U.S. 518 (2006), Paul House was charged with capital murder, convicted, and sentenced to death even though there was no direct evidence linking him to the crime. He petitioned for habeas corpus in federal courts affirming that he had novel evidence showing that he was not guilty. However, his petition was denied by The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on the ground that he had not satisfactorily demonstrated that, considering the new evidence no reasonable juror would convict him. In arriving at this decision the court relied on the case of Schlup v. Delo. The court stressed that while the some doubt on the original evidence, however, it could not maintain an application for habeas petition.


The issue of contention was whether the federal appeals court had erred in applying Schlup v. Delo and subsequently holding that Houses new evidence, was insufficient for a habeas petition.


In a decision that was voted 5-3 the court of appeals was found to have erred in denying the habeas petition by the Supreme Court. The Court reasoned that the petitioners case was of its kind and that it deserved a review notwithstanding that he had failed to offer his new evidence during the trial. As such the court categorically affirmed that the houses new evidence was so strong that if he had offered it, no reasonable juror would have convicted him. Following this observation, the Supreme Court directed the lower courts to hear Houses new claims.

In a nutshell, it can be noted that House was entitled to this relief as he was in prison. Second, he filed numerous petitions, first in two state courts as well as the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, including a review by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and finally the U.S. Supreme Court. From the case, it is evident that House sought to provide fresh evidence that was not produced during the trial.

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