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What is a writ of certiorari used for?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Sometimes shortened to just “certiorari,” writ of certiorari comes from the Latin, “to be fully informed.” Without a doubt, it’s a good idea for anyone in South Carolina who’s received an unfavorable ruling in court to be fully informed on how this legal process works.

Most people who are familiar with this archaic-sounding legal phrase (besides lawyers) usually have heard it in relation to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is because the SCOTUS uses certiorari as a means of deciding which cases it will hear.

A way of challenging the ruling in your case

It takes the agreement of four Supreme Court Justices in order for a writ of certiorari to be issued. First, a petition for a writ of certiorari is filed with a higher court by the losing party in a case. This petition is a way of formally requesting that this higher court reviews the judgment of the lower court, against the petitioning of the party.

Petition requirements

In order to successfully appeal a lower court’s ruling, a petition for a writ of certiorari has to include the legal questions and facts associated with the case. It must also name every party involved in the case and has to argue why this particular case is something the higher court should hear.

When an agreement is made that the higher court will hear the case, it’s called “granting cert.” This is when the writ of certiorari is issued by the higher court to the lower court. There are stringent requirements in this appeals process that the higher court imposes upon the lower court, including providing physical copies of all records from the entirety of the case.

It’s easy to be intimidated by legal processes like writ of certiorari, especially when the name itself is in a different language. When a case is brought against you, the court’s ruling may seem final and you might feel that there’s nothing you can do about it. But by working your way through the appeals process, you have the potential to reverse the ruling of a lower court and clear your name.