writ of certiorari(redirected from certiorari)
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writ of certiorari
A request that a higher court hear arguments that a lower court ruled improperly on some or all issues in a lawsuit. The higher court does not have to honor the request and therefore frequently “denies cert.” This is different from an appeal, which must at least be heard by the higher court,even though the court may ultimately rule against the person who filed the appeal.
• In the federal court system, trial occurs at the level of the United States District Court. If one is unhappy with the outcome, one has the right to appeal to the United States Circuit Court with authority over the district court. If again unhappy with the outcome, one peti- tions the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari.
• The writ orders the Circuit court to certify the record and send it up to the Supreme Court for review. The same system is used in most state courts, to some extent.
• The denial of a writ of certiorari, often called a “denial of cert,” does not mean the higher court agrees with the ruling of the lower court. Rather, it usually means the issues present- ed are not important enough, in the opinion of the higher court, to warrant its considera- tion. The vast majority of cases are rejected.
• Cert may be granted but limited to one or a few issues. An example appears here.