A writ issued out of a court of competent jurisdiction, directed to the judge of a court of record in which final judgment has been given, and commanding them, in some cases, themselves to examine the record; in others to send it to another court of appellate jurisdiction, therein named, to be examined in order that some alleged error in the proceeding may be corrected.
The first is called a writ of error coram nobis or vobis. When an issue in fact has been decided, there is not in general any appeal except by motion for a new trial; and although a matter. of fact should exist which was not brought into the issue, as for example, if the defendant neglected to Plead a release, which he might have pleaded, this is no error in the proceedings, though a mistake of the defendant. But there are some facts which affect the validity and regularity of the proceeding itself, and to remedy these errors the party in interest may sue out the writ of error coram vobis. The death of one of the parties at the commencement of the suit; the appearance of an infant in a personal action, by an attorney, and not by guardian; the coverture of either party, at the commencement of the suit, when her husband is not joined with her, are instances of this kind. The second species is called, generally, writ of error, and is the more common. Its object is to review and correct an error of the law committed in the proceedings, which is not amendable, or cured at common law, or by some of the statutes of amendment or jeofail.
In the French law the demande en cassation is somewhat similar to our proceeding in error; according to some of the best writers on French law, it is considered as a new suit, and it is less an action between the original parties, than a question between the judgment and the law. It is not the action which is to be judged, but the judgment. A writ of error is in the nature of a suit or action, when it is to restore the party who obtains it to the possession of any thing which is withheld from him, not when its operation is entirely defensive.