PREMIUM LEGAL RESOURCES
ASK A LAWYER
Lat. 'To be informed of.' Refers to the order a court issues so that it can review the decision and proceedings in a lower court and determine whether there were any irregularities. When such an order is made it is said that the court has granted certiorari. Also called 'Cert.'
An order issued by the Supreme Court directing the lower court to transmit records for a case for which it will hear on appeal. Certiorari is the general method most cases make their way to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court since it has specific jurisdiction over a very limited range of disputes.
To be certified of; to be informed of. This is the name of a writ issued from a superior court directed to one of inferior jurisdiction, commanding the latter to certify and return to the former the record in the particular case. A certiorari differs from a writ of error. There is a distinction also between a habeus corpus and a certiorari. The certiorari removes the cause; habeus corpus only supersedes the proceedings below.
By the common law a supreme court has power to review the proceedings of all inferior tribunals and to pass upon their jurisdiction and decisions on questions of law. But in general the determination of such inferior courts on questions of fact are conclusive and cannot be reversed on certiorari unless some statute confers the power on such supreme court. When any error has occurred in the proceedings of the court below different from the course of the common law, in any stage of the cause, either civil or criminal cases, the writ of certiorari is the only remedy to correct such error, unless some other statutory remedy has been given. A certiorari, for example, is the correct process to remove the proceedings of a court of sessions or of county commissioners in laying out highways.
Sometimes the writ of certiorari is used as auxiliary process in order to obtain a full return to some other process. When, for example, the record of an inferior court is brought before a superior court by appeal, writ of error, or other lawful mode, and there is a manifest defect, or a suggestion of diminution, a certiorari is awarded requiring a perfect transcript and all papers.