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Albert Bach, legal counsel to Lathrop organized for a writ of habeas corpus to have her released. Bach held that the interesting point in the case was the question of the deprivation of Lathrop's postal rights while in the asylum. She was not permitted to have writing materials, and even though she succeeded in obtaining them, the asylum authorities disposed of her letters as they pleased. The claim was asserted that asylum managers have no such control over inmates as have prison managers; that the former institutions have more of the character of hospitals. Bach found nothing in the by-laws of the Utica asylum giving the right to this close supervision. He said that there were many instances of wrongful incarceration and that justice would seem to dictate that inmates of asylums should have access to the mails. Even though much of it would be trash, it would be well worthwhile to endure that if information could be obtained to the release of a person improperly detained.
Habeas corpus is an important legal principle.
Habeas corpus derives from the Latin, meaning "[we, a Court, command] that you have the body [of the detainee brought before us]"). It is a recourse in law by which a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court and request that the court order the custodian of the person, usually a prison official, to bring the prisoner to court, to determine whether the detention is lawful and enquire into their wellbeing.
Habeas corpus originally stems from the Assize of Clarendon, a re-issuance of rights during the reign of Henry II of England. In the 12th century, the foundations for habeas corpus were "wrongly thought" to have originated in Magna Carta. This charter declared that:
No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseized of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land.