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Ottawa County Legal Self-Help Center

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H

HABEAS CORPUS
Latin for "You have the body." The name of the legal paper or court order (a "writ") that is used to bring a person before a court or judge. Generally, it is addressed to the government official who holds the person (usually the person in charge of the prison or jail). It tells the person to bring the person being held to court so that the court may decide whether that person is legally in prison or jail or must be released because there was something wrong with the case against him or her. It's also the name of the challenge that a prisoner makes to the federal court to get a hearing to decide whether Michigan may continue to keep the person in prison.
HEARING
A court proceeding that is "on the record" (where the word-for-word recording is made). A hearing is often used to decide issues in a case before or after the full trial of a case, and may be less formal than the trial.
HEARSAY
Second-hand evidence, or statements by someone who did not see or hear what happened but heard about it from someone else. It usually cannot be used as evidence in court.
HEIR
A person who inherits or gets money or property from someone who has died, or someone who by law is entitled to inherit the property of another person if the person dies without a will.
HIGH COURT MISDEMEANOR
A crime that is listed as a misdemeanor, but may be punished by more than one year in jail. Because of the possibility of longer jail time, the cases are handled by the circuit court just like a felony case.
HOLOGRAPHIC WILL
An unwitnessed will where the decedent (the person who died) wrote out the parts giving away the property in his or her handwriting and he or she signed it at the end and dated it.
HOMESTEAD
The ownership interest in a person's legal residence that cannot be claimed by creditors. If your house qualifies as a "homestead" it cannot be sold to pay your debts.