Writ of Certiorari Law and Legal Definition

A writ of certiorari is an order a higher court issues in order to review the decision and proceedings in a lower court and determine whether there were any irregularities. When a court issues a writ or certiorari it is referred to as "granting certiorari", or 'cert.' When the U.S. Supreme Court orders a lower court to transmit records for a case for which it will hear on appeal, it is done through a writ of certiorari. Certiorari is the common method for cases to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court since it has specific jurisdiction over a very limited range of disputes.

A supreme court has power to review the proceedings of all lower tribunals and to rule upon their authority to hear the case and their decisions on questions of law. However, the lower court's determination on questions of fact will rarely be disturbed, although a state statute may authorize a higher court to do so.

The following is an example of a state statute dealing with writs of certiorari:

"The justices of the Supreme Court shall have authority to issue writs of certiorari and to grant injunctions and stays of execution of judgment, subject to the limitations prescribed by this code and the Rules of Appellate Procedure, as judges of the circuit courts are authorized to grant the same."