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M v W (2001)

  • Clayton Rice, Q.C.

A writ of habeas corpus is an extraordinary remedy with deep roots in the common law. The phrase habeas corpus is Latin. In literal translation it means you shall have the body. In the legal context it means to have the body in court. The body is not dead. The corpus is quite alive and the person is in prison. The purpose of an application for habeas corpus is to review the lawfulness of a person’s imprisonment. In this case, M was an inmate in the Drumheller Penitentiary east of Calgary. He was removed from the minimum security unit to administrative segregation and then to the general medium security population. The Warden made the decision based on an allegation that M attempted to bribe a guard in exchange for a private family visit. M was never charged with a disciplinary offence and was denied his right to be present at the classification review hearing. Mr Rice brought an application in the Court of Queen’s Bench at Calgary for an order in the nature of habeas corpus. The chambers judge granted the order and the reclassification decision of the Warden was overturned. M was granted parole shortly after the judgment was rendered.

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