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What Is Writ of Certiorari?

Courts exist within a certain hierarchy that varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This hierarchy generally provides a structure for a higher court and a lower court. For example, in the United States, the lower courts are considered to be the regional or district courts while the higher courts are considered to be the federal courts and the Supreme Court, the highest court. Thus, a higher court has greater jurisdiction and power over lower courts. When a higher court orders a lower court to turn over transcripts and documents with regards to a specific case under review, this is done through the issuance of the Writ of Certiorari.


Before a writ of certiorari is granted, a judge must consider first the request from a petitioner who files it in a higher court. It is granted upon the exercise of judicial discretion. Ergo, there is no actual standard or criteria for a writ of certiorari to be issued. The request must be accompanied by an explanation as to why the petitioner wishes to obtain such a writ and the issue that is being disputed. This is necessary for a judge to know before exercising any kind of judicial discretion in dispensing a writ of certiorari.


Writ of Certiorari is based on the Latin term certiorari, which means to be informed or to make certain. One of the ways for a higher court to review a case is to issue a writ of certiorari so as to read and evaluate the case files.

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