Habeas Corpus:  A Civil Court Alternative for Immediate COVID-19 Inmate Release

DID YOU KNOW that a CIVIL COURT judge can Order the immediate release of a prisoner with increased vulnerability to death from COVID-19 at any time – even if the criminal court judge and the prosecutor oppose the release?

Habeas corpus is a procedure brought in a civil court (not a criminal court) to ask a neutral judge to order the IMMEDIATE RELEASE of a prisoner for “illegal detainment”.  The right to habeas corpus is so important that it is guaranteed in Article 1 of the United States Constitution.  It applies regardless of whether the prisoner has been convicted of a crime or has been denied affordable bail.  Habeas corpus can even be used to have a prisoner released from custody by a civil court judge during a criminal court trial!

LeNoir Law Firm believes that a habeas corpus proceeding decided by a civil court judge is a better way to get an inmate IMMEDIATELY RELEASED, at any time, due to increased vulnerability to death from COVID-19 than a request to a criminal court judge.

In fact, we think that criminal court judges not are qualified to make neutral decisions about releasing prisoners that the judges or their colleagues in the same courthouse have sentenced to prison or denied affordable bail.  Criminal court judges put the inmates in prison in the first place, knowing full well the dangerous and violent conditions, and lack of adequate healthcare, that exist in New York’s overcrowded prisons in the best of times.  Why should they suddenly become concerned about the additional dangerous and deadly prison conditions created by COVID-19?

In contrast to criminal court judges, civil court judges are not in the business of imprisoning people.  They are more likely to be open-minded.  They have not been personally involved in the COVID-19 prison crisis and are horrified and disgusted like most people at the news they hear about the deadly health conditions New York’s inmates continue to experience during the pandemic. 

Furthermore, civil courts have not been overburdened with inmate release cases.  Most attempts by criminal defense lawyers to have inmates released are made in a criminal court.  We believe that vast majority of prisoners who will be released through the criminal courts due to COVID-19 susceptibility have already been released.

New York’s Habeas Corpus law gives New York State prison inmates (whether convicted, waiting for trial, or during trial) the constitutional right to challenge their detainment at any time, beginning with their arrests, before a neutral, civil court judge who can order that the prisoner be immediately released.   

Combined with (1) the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against against deprivation (taking) of life without due process of law and (2) the Eighth Amendment’s prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishments AND against excessive bails, New York’s Habeas Corpus law can be used to have a prisoner vulnerable to death from COVID-19 released from prison immediately, at any time.

Attorneys experienced in both the civil and criminal courts are ideally suited to bring a habeas corpus proceeding in a civil court based upon an illegal detainment by a criminal court judge. LeNoir Law Firm has practiced successfully in New York’s civil and criminal courts since 1995 and possesses thorough knowledge of both the civil and criminal laws and court systems.

If you are concerned about a New York inmate’s vulnerability to death from COVID-19, please contact the LeNoir Law Firm to learn your legal options.

2585 Broadway, Suite 251
New York, NY 10025
Tel:  212-531-0284
Email:  info@habeaslawyers.com