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How do You File a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari?

By R. Kimball
Updated May 16, 2024
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One requesting a court to review an appeal from a lower court files a document in the form required by that specific court asking the court to review the decision of a lower court. Generally, the petition for a writ of certiorari document must include the parties to the case, a statement of facts, legal questions presented for review, and the arguments for why the court should review the decision. The superior court is not required to review the decision of the lower court. If the superior court decides to review the decision, it grants a writ of certiorari to the lower court.

A petition for a writ of certiorari must be filed in accordance with the rules of the specific court to which the petition is being addressed. The rules vary by jurisdiction. The US Supreme Court, for example, requires that 40 copies of the petition be submitted in booklet format. The petition process is normally regulated by statute in each jurisdiction.

The party who has lost in the lower court writes the petition for a writ of certiorari. The petition document must include a list of the parties to the case. A statement of facts at issue must be included within the petition, and the legal questions presented for review to the superior court should be stated in the document. The losing party should present his or her arguments explaining why the court should review the decision of the lower court.

The arguments presented to the superior court for why the lower court’s decision should be reviewed must give the superior court a specific reason for it to decide to grant a writ of certiorari. The superior court generally accepts decisions for review when there is a split between the lower court districts on a specific issue or if there is a deep constitutional question presented within the lower court decision. Most superior courts limit the number of cases they review because the courts do not have the capacity to answer each case that petitions for review.

In the USA, the Supreme Court requires that at least four of the nine justices determine the case is eligible for review. Granting a writ of certiorari does not mean that the justices disagree with the lower court’s decision. This determination shows only that the court believes that there is a reason to review the lower court’s decision. Denial of a writ of certiorari does not give any additional legal precedent to the lower court's decision.

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Discussion Comments

By anon1006793 — On May 22, 2022

There should be an easier way when the lower court is part of the cause of action and embedded with the state in corruption.

By anon271494 — On May 26, 2012

The Superior Court is the lower court, so this makes no sense to me.

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