What is a Writ of Certiorari?

In some lower court proceedings, circumstances may lead to case being marked for consideration for further examination by the Supreme Court; the formal appeal for this consideration is called a writ of certiorari. It is not typical for a writ of certiorari to be determined as the necessary course of action, but should a strong-enough appeal be made, a lower court may be ordered to provide the details of its decided case to a higher court for further judicial review.

Approval and Denial

The majority of cases that are observed by the Supreme Court are designated by the establishment of a writ of certiorari requesting its involvement. If and when the petition has been submitted by the lower court, it will be at the discretion of the Supreme Court that the petition is taken as valid. A thorough process of examination must occur before any further action can be taken regarding the case in question.

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Because of the discretionary nature of the writ, there is no guarantee that it will be approved of once submitted. Both the volume of appeals submitted to the Supreme Court and the urgency of the case in question will have an effect on the amount of time that may transpire before the Supreme Court makes its decision.

Ancient Historical Implementation

In its Latin origin, “certiorari” defines the concept of either being informed or made absolutely certain of a matter. In its modern application, certiorari can be considered a proposition of necessity that a higher court preside over a specific case.

The earliest recorded examples of certiorari in legal proceedings are traced to Ancient Rome. In the context of Ancient Roman law, certiorari was not far-removed from the its modern definition. Roman Law’s process of certiorari involved a written indication of either a need or direct order for specific parties to be made aware of a court ruling.

Distinct Case Pathways To The Supreme Court

By nature, the Supreme Court is the only federal court that can choose the cases that its hears at its own discretion. The circuit court’s petition is just one of the pathways that cases take to reach the Supreme Court’s level.

While the most common certiorari grants necessitate a waiting period, there are less common scenarios in which the Supreme Court takes on a case without an intermediate period; this is referred to as the court’s original jurisdiction. Cases that fall under original jurisdiction are determined as being incapable of being heard by any other court aside from the Supreme Court itself.

Cases may also be brought to Supreme Court via direct appeals from states’ most decisive legal bodies, such as the Court of Appeals. Like a certiorari petitions submitted by the lower circuit court, cases submitted by the Court of Appeals are not absolutely guaranteed to be granted a Supreme Court hearing; however, in most cases, the Supreme Court will not deny a case that has been submitted in accordance to state laws. Cases that present an objective Constitutional issue will always be granted certiorari.