The Body and the State

The Body and the State : Habeas Corpus and American Jurisprudence

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The writ of habeas corpus is the principal means by which state prisoners, many on death row, attack the constitutionality of their conviction in federal courts. In The Body and the State, Cary Federman contends that habeas corpus is more than just a get-out-of-jail-free card--it gives death row inmates a constitutional means of overturning a jury's mistaken determination of guilt. Tracing the history of the writ since 1789, Federman examines its influence on federal-state relations and argues that habeas corpus petitions turn legal language upside down, threatening the states' sovereign judgment to convict and execute criminals as well as upsetting the discourse, created by the Supreme Court, that the federal-state relationship ought not be disturbed by convicted criminals making habeas corpus appeals. He pays particular attention to the changes in the discourse over federalism and capital punishment that have restricted the writ's application over time.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 254 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.1 x 22.9mm | 453.6g
  • Albany, NY, United States
  • English
  • Annotated
  • Annotated edition
  • Total Illustrations: 0
  • 0791467031
  • 9780791467039

Review quote

"Federman's scholarship is impressive, and he has successfully mapped out and made intelligible the underlying issues that help make sense of the history of the writ--its patterns of expansion and constriction in the two centuries of its application. He makes a convincing case for dividing the writ into discrete historical periods, and he analyzes the interplay between the dominant narratives and counternarratives in each epoch. This is an important work that accomplishes what no other work has so far accomplished."
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About Cary Federman

Cary Federman is Fulbright Scholar at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.
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