Tag Archives: Habeas corpus

There is another way to go about this.

I have recieved your petition praying for the discharge of your son Jehiel Goff from military service on the ground of his being under age … the discharge in such a case does not rest on the will of the military alone, but that on your application to a judge of the US. he will issue a Habeas Corpus & the fact of infancy will be enquired into under the civil authority, & the discharge be ordered by the same. as this process may be troublesome to you, you need not resort to it, unless in the enquiry ordered by the military officer, he should decide the fact contrary to what you deem proveable; in which case the Habeas Corpus will furnish you relief.
To Aaron Goff, August 13, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Again, thoughtful leaders provide options.
Jefferson forwarded Goff’s petition for his son’s discharge from the army to the Secretary of War, who had the authority to act on it. But there was another authority, a non-military one, Goff should know about.

A civil judge could command the boy’s presence in court (habeas corpus) and order his release if the facts warranted it. It wasn’t a simple process, but it was an option. Goff might prefer to let the military investigation proceed and revert to civil procedure only of the army refused to discharge his son.

For a different take on the same issue, see this 12-17-17 post, “Get your hands off him.”

“Your presentation, particularly your response to questions,
was most impressive.”
Program Chair, American College of Real Estate Lawyers
Mr. Jefferson trusts that your audience, too, will be most impressed!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Get your hands off him!

Immediately on the reciept of your letter of Sep. 16. stating the enlistment of Jeremiah Battels, an infant, against the will of his father, directions were sent to the proper officer to enquire into the fact and, if true, to discharge him [failing that] … by applying to a judge for a Habeas corpus, the young man will be brought before the judge … and, if satisfactory, the judge will discharge him … this method of discharge, where it can be conveniently resorted to, is preferable to the other, because it is useful to exhibit examples of the military will controuled & circumscribed by the civil authority.
To Anthony Haswell, October 13, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders strengthen civil authority over the military.
Haswell entreated the President, on behalf of an elderly neighbor, whose underage son (not an infant but 18), was conscripted into the militia against his father’s will. Jefferson took immediate action to initiate an investigation by the military. If unsuccessful in securing the boy’s release, they should apply to the judge for habeas corpus, an order to bring the boy out of custody and before the judge for an inquiry. .

That could be a better approach, Jefferson stated. Not only could it secure the boy’s release, it would strengthen the principle of the civilian court controlling and limiting the power of the military.

“Mr. Lee is very easy to work with
and his professionalism and understanding of clients was extremely appreciated.”
Executive Director, Missouri Concrete Association
Mr. Jefferson is easy to work with, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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