Judge Underwood Refuses to Issue a Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Case of Mr. Davis

June 12, 1866


Judge Underwood refuses a Writ of Habeas Corpus for Davis unless Johnson gives him a relinquishment of accused to civil authorities, making him a prisoner of war.


Mr. Shea, of the counsel for Jeff. Davis, made a motion to-day before Judge Underwood, in chambers, in order to test the jurisdiction of the courts in Virginia, involving the power to hold the prisoner to bail, it being a judicial question with which the President has nothing to do. Judge Underwood expressed the opinion which has always been insisted on by Chief Justice Chase, that so long as martial law or military surveillance was enforced in Virginia, the courts were adjunct, and to he used in aid of the military powers. Judge Underwood declined issuing a write of habeas corpus to bring the prisoner before his court until he received from the President a relinquishment of the accused to the civil authorities, Davis being now a prisoner of war. Judge Underwood rendered his opinion in writing, which was delivered to the President by Mr. O'Connor. All action in the premises is suspended until further orders from the Government.
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“Judge Underwood Refuses to Issue a Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Case of Mr. Davis,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/211.