Ex Parte Dorr
Annotate this Case
44 U.S. 103 (1845)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Ex Parte Dorr, 44 U.S. 3 How. 103 103 (1845)
Ex Parte Dorr, 44 U.S. 103 (1845)
4 U.S. (3 How.) 103
Neither the Supreme Court nor any other court of the United States or judge thereof can issue a habeas corpus to bring up a prisoner who is in custody under a sentence or execution of a state court for any other purpose than to be used as a witness.
An application for a writ of error prayed for without the authority of the party concerned but at the request of his friends cannot be granted.
Mr. Treadwell moved for a writ of habeas corpus to bring up Thomas W. Dorr, of Rhode Island, under the following circumstances:
He stated that Dorr was charged with levying war against the State of Rhode Island, and sentenced to the state's prison for life in June, 1844; that upon the trial a point of law was raised whether treason could be committed against a state, but the court would not permit counsel to argue it; that a motion was made to suspend the sentence until a writ of error could be sued out to bring the case before the Supreme Court of the United States, but the court refused to suspend it. He then read affidavits to show that personal access to Dorr was denied, in consequence of which his authority could not be obtained for an application for such a writ. The present motion for a habeas corpus was based upon this fact. There was no other mode of ascertaining whether or not it was Dorr's wish that his case should be brought up to this Court. Under the 14th section of the Judiciary Act, the power to issue writs of habeas corpus was vested in the judges of the United States' courts. 3 Story's Com., tit. Jurisdiction, 588, 590, 594, 595, 603, 608, 610, 625.
The case was in itself proper to be brought up under the 25th section of the Judiciary Act, as the decision of the state court was thought to be inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States.