Writ

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In English common law, a writ is a formal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial jurisdiction. In modern use this generally is a court. Writs are issued by courts directing the person to whom they are addressed to do something or to not do something.[1] Writs may also be used to direct other courts or public authorities. The authority for a court to issue a writ is given by the All Writs Act which is a United States federal statute originally a part of the Judiciary Act of 1789.[2]

History[change | change source]

In its earliest form a writ was simply a written order made by the English king to a specified person to undertake a specified action. For example in the feudal era a military summons by the king to one of his tenants-in-chief to appear dressed for battle with his knights at a certain place and time.[3] An early usage survives in the United Kingdom. Also in Canada in a writ of election. This was is a written order issued on behalf of the monarch (in Canada, the Governor General) to local officials (High Sheriffs of every county in historical UK) to hold a general election. Writs were used by the medieval English kings to summon persons to Parliament.

Types of writs[change | change source]

There have been a great many kinds of writs. Some of the more common types still in use are:

  • Writ of Habeas corpus: A legal document ordering a person who has been arrested to come before a court.[1]
  • Writ of Mandamus: This directs a government department or official to take an action.[1]
  • Writ of Prohibition: This writ directs a public authority not to take a specified action. Usually issued by appellate courts to lower courts.[1]
  • Writ of Certiorari (abbreviated Cert.): A kind of writ issued by an appellate court to review cases from a lower court.[1]
  • Writ of Quo warranto: A type of writ used to challenge the legality of someone holding a public office.[1]
  • Writ of Coram nobis: A writ issued by an appeals court to a lower court to correct a previous error.[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Writs Law & Legal Definition". USLegal, Inc. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  2. "Annotation 6 - Article III". FindLaw. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  3. Francis Palgrave, Parliamentary Writs and Writs of Military Summons (2 volumes, 1827 and 1834)
  4. "Writ of Coram Nobis Law & Legal Definition". USLegal. Retrieved 21 March 2016.