petition for a writ of certiorari | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Procedural Law

A petition for a writ of certiorari is a formal request made by a party to a lower court decision asking the Supreme Court to review the case.

If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, the Writ of Certiorari is issued.

A petition for a writ of certiorari is a legal document filed with the U.S. Supreme Court (or a state appellate court) that seeks a review of a lower court decision. This request is made by a party who is dissatisfied with the outcome of their case in the lower court and believes that there are significant legal or constitutional issues that require clarification or resolution. The writ of certiorari is not automatically granted, and the Supreme Court has complete discretion to decide which cases it will hear.

In order to file a petition for a writ of certiorari, the party must follow strict procedural rules and requirements, including filing within a specified time frame after the lower court’s decision is rendered. The petition must also include a statement of the facts and legal issues involved in the case, as well as a legal argument outlining why the Supreme Court should grant the writ and review the case. The petition must be supported by a written brief, which provides a detailed analysis of the legal issues and authorities involved and may also include supporting evidence and arguments from amicus curiae, or “friends of the court.”

The process of seeking a writ of certiorari is complex and requires significant legal expertise and resources. Many petitions are denied, as the Supreme Court receives thousands of petitions each year and only grants a small percentage of them. In order to be considered for review, a case must generally involve important legal issues, have significant national or constitutional implications, or involve conflicting decisions from lower courts.

If the Supreme Court grants a writ of certiorari, it will schedule the case for oral argument and issue a decision on the merits of the case. The decision will be binding on all lower courts and will establish a precedent for future cases involving similar legal issues. The writ of certiorari is an important mechanism for ensuring that the U.S. legal system operates fairly and consistently and that important legal questions are resolved in a timely and appropriate manner.

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Last Modified: 07/25/2023

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