Certiorari,[a] often abbreviated cert. in the United States, is a process for seeking judicial review and a writ issued by a court that agrees to review. A certiorari is issued by a superior court, directing an inferior court, tribunal, or other public authority to send the record of a proceeding for review.


The term comes from the words used at the beginning of these writs when they were written in Latin: certiorārī (volumus) "[we wish] to be made certain". Certiorari is the present passive infinitive of the Latin verb certioro, certiorare ("to inform, apprise, show").[2][3]

Historical and modern jurisdictions

Historical usage dates back to Roman Law. In modern law, certiorari is recognized in many jurisdictions, including the United States, the United Kingdom (excluding Scotland), Canada, India, Ireland, and the Philippines.[4]

Ancient Rome

In Roman law, certiorari was suggested in terms of reviewing a case—much as the term is applied today—although the term was also used in writing to indicate the need or duty to inform other parties of a court's ruling. It was a highly technical term appearing only in jurisprudential Latin, most frequently in the works of Ulpian.

The term certiorari is often found in Roman literature on law but applied in a philosophical rather than tangible manner when concerning the action of review of a case or aspects of a case. Essentially, it states that the case will be heard.

Common law and Commonwealth

At common law, certiorari was a supervisory writ, serving to keep "all inferior jurisdictions within the bounds of their authority ... [protecting] the liberty of the subject, by speedy and summary interposition".[5] In England and Wales, and separately in Northern Ireland, the Court of King's Bench was tasked with the duty of supervising all lower courts, and had power to issue all writs necessary for the discharge of that duty; the justices of that Court appeared to have no discretion as to whether it was heard, as long as an application for a bill of certiorari met established criteria, as it arose from their duty of supervision.

The underlying policy is that all inferior courts and authorities have only limited jurisdiction or powers and must be kept within their legal bounds. This is the concern of the Crown, for the sake of orderly administration of justice, but it is a private complaint which sets the Crown in motion.[6]

As Associate Justice James Wilson, the person primarily responsible for the drafting of Article Three of the United States Constitution,[7] explains:

In every judicial department, well arranged and well organized, there should be a regular, progressive, gradation of jurisdiction; and one supreme tribunal should superintend and govern all the others.

An arrangement in this manner is proper for two reasons:

  1. The supreme tribunal produces and preserves a uniformity of decision through the whole judicial system.
  2. It confines and supports every inferior court within the limits of its just jurisdiction.

If no superintending tribunal of this nature were established, different courts might adopt different and even contradictory rules of decision; and the distractions, springing from these different and contradictory rules, would be without remedy and without end. Opposite determinations of the same question, in different courts, would be equally final and irreversible.[8]

Consistent with Justice Wilson's explanation, the power to issue writs of certiorari is invested in the highest court of every Commonwealth jurisdiction, in some way, shape, or manner. While some incorporate this remedy into their constitutions, e.g., India,[9] others treat it as an implied power of superior courts, e.g., Australia,[10] but in all Commonwealth jurisdictions—as distinguished from their American counterpart—it has evolved into a general remedy for the correction of plain error, to bring decisions of an inferior court or tribunal or public authority before the superior court for review so that the court can determine whether to quash such decisions.[11]

United States

Federal courts

In the United States, certiorari is most often seen as the writ that the Supreme Court of the United States issues to a lower court to review the lower court's judgment for legal error (reversible error) and review where no appeal is available as a matter of right. Before the Judiciary Act of 1891,[12] the cases that could reach the Supreme Court were heard as a matter of right, meaning that the Court was required to issue a decision in each of those cases.[13] That is, the Court had to review all properly presented appeals on the merits, hear oral argument, and issue decisions. As the United States expanded in the nineteenth century, the federal judicial system became increasingly strained, and the Supreme Court had a backlog of cases several years long.[14] The Act solved these problems by transferring most of the court's direct appeals to the newly created circuit courts of appeals, whose decisions in those cases would normally be final.[15] The Supreme Court did not completely give up its judiciary authority, however, because it gained the ability to review the decisions of the courts of appeals at its discretion through writ of certiorari.[16]

Since the Judiciary Act of 1925 and the Supreme Court Case Selections Act of 1988,[17] most cases cannot be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States as a matter of right. A party who wants the Supreme Court to review a decision of a federal or state court files a "petition for writ of certiorari" in the Supreme Court. A "petition" is printed in booklet format and 40 copies are filed with the Court.[18] If the Court grants the petition, the case is scheduled for the filing of briefs and for oral argument. A minimum of four of the nine justices is required to grant a writ of certiorari, referred to as the "rule of four". The court denies the vast majority of petitions and thus leaves the decision of the lower court to stand without review; it takes roughly 80 to 150 cases each term. In the term that concluded in June 2009, for example, 8,241 petitions were filed, with a grant rate of approximately 1.1 percent.[19] Cases on the paid certiorari docket are substantially more likely to be granted than those on the in forma pauperis docket.[20] The Supreme Court is generally careful to choose only cases over which the Court has jurisdiction and which the Court considers sufficiently important, such as cases involving deep constitutional questions, to merit the use of its limited resources. See also Cert pool. While both appeals of right and cert petitions often present several alleged errors of the lower courts for appellate review, the court normally grants review of only one or two questions presented in a certiorari petition.

The Supreme Court sometimes grants a writ of certiorari to resolve a "circuit split", when the federal appeals courts in two (or more) federal judicial circuits have ruled differently in similar situations. These are often called "percolating issues."

Certiorari is sometimes informally referred to as cert., and cases warranting the Supreme Court's attention as "cert. worthy".[21] The granting of a writ does not necessarily mean that the Supreme Court disagrees with the decision of the lower court. Granting a writ of certiorari means merely that at least four of the justices have determined that the circumstances described in the petition are sufficient to warrant review by the Court.

Conversely, the Supreme Court's denial of a petition for a writ of certiorari is sometimes misunderstood as implying that the Supreme Court approves the decision of the lower court. However, as the Court explained in Missouri v. Jenkins,[22] such a denial "imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case[.]" In particular, a denial of a writ of certiorari means that no binding precedent is created by the denial itself, and the lower court's decision is treated as mandatory authority only within the geographical (or in the case of the Federal Circuit, subject-specific) jurisdiction of that court. The reasons for why a denial of certiorari cannot be treated as implicit approval were set forth in Maryland v. Baltimore Radio Show, Inc. (1950), in which the Court explained the many rationales which could underlie the denial of a writ which have nothing to do with the merits of the case.

Since the vast majority of petitions for certiorari are routinely denied without comment, it is normally unnecessary to indicate that fact in citations to decisions of lower federal courts, unless it happened within the last two years or was otherwise particularly relevant (e.g., to support an inference that a particular appellant is a vexatious litigant).

In legal citations, "cert. granted sub nom" is an abbreviation of the legal phrase "certiorari granted sub nomine", meaning "judicial review granted, under name", indicating that a petition for certiorari of a case has been granted, but that the court granting certiorari is hearing the case under a different name than the name under which the subordinate courts heard the case. For example, the case of District of Columbia v. Heller was known as Parker v. District of Columbia in the court below.

State courts

Some United States state court systems use the same terminology, but in others, writ of review, leave to appeal, or certification for appeal is used in place of writ of certiorari as the name for discretionary review of a lower court's judgment. A handful of states lack intermediate appellate courts; in most of these, their supreme courts operate under a mandatory review regime, in which the supreme court must take all appeals in order to preserve the loser's traditional right to one appeal (except in criminal cases where the defendant was acquitted). Virginia has an intermediate appeals court, but operates under discretionary review except in family law and administrative cases. Mandatory review remains in place in all states where the death penalty exists; in those states, a sentence of death is automatically appealed to the state's highest court.

In two states without an intermediate appeals court—New Hampshire and West Virginia—the supreme court used to operate under discretionary review in all cases, whether civil or criminal. This meant that there was no right of appeal in either state, with the only exception being death penalty cases in New Hampshire. (West Virginia abolished its death penalty in 1965.) However, New Hampshire transitioned to mandatory review for the vast majority of cases beginning in 2004,[23] while West Virginia transitioned to mandatory review for all cases beginning in 2010.[24][25]

Texas is an unusual exception to the rule that denial of certiorari by the state supreme court normally does not imply approval or disapproval of the merits of the lower court's decision. In March 1927, the Texas Legislature enacted a law directing the Texas Supreme Court to summarily refuse to hear applications for writs of error when it believed the Court of Appeals opinion correctly stated the law.[26] Thus, since June 1927, over 4,100 decisions of the Texas Courts of Appeals have become valid binding precedent of the Texas Supreme Court itself because the high court refused applications for writ of error rather than denying them and thereby signaled that it approved of their holdings as the law of the state.[26]

While Texas' unique practice saved the state supreme court from having to hear relatively minor cases just to create uniform statewide precedents on those issues, it also makes for lengthy citations to the opinions of the Courts of Appeals, since the subsequent writ history of the case must always be noted (e.g., no writ, writ refused, writ denied, etc.) in order for the reader to determine at a glance whether the cited opinion is binding precedent only in the district of the Court of Appeals in which it was decided, or binding precedent for the entire state.[26] In contrast, California[27] and New York[28] solved the problem of creating uniform precedent by simply holding that the first intermediate appellate court to reach a novel question of law always sets binding precedent for the entire state, unless and until another intermediate appellate court expressly disagrees with the first one.

Administrative law

In the administrative law context, the common-law writ of certiorari was historically used by lower courts in the United States for judicial review of decisions made by an administrative agency after an adversarial hearing. Some states have retained this use of the writ of certiorari in state courts, while others have replaced it with statutory procedures. In the federal courts, this use of certiorari has been abolished and replaced by a civil action under the Administrative Procedure Act in a United States district court or in some circumstances a petition for review in a United States court of appeals.


The Philippines has adapted the extraordinary writ of certiorari in civil actions under its Rules of Court.[29]

See also


  1. ^ Pronounced /ˌsɜːrʃəˈrɛəraɪ/, /-ˈrɛəri/, or /-ˈrɑːri/.[1][2]


  1. ^ "Certiorari ! Define Certiorari at Dictionary.com".
  2. ^ a b "Definition of certiorari in Oxford dictionary (British & World English)".
  3. ^ "Definition at Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary".
  4. ^ "Philippine Supreme Court Circulars". Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  5. ^ 3 Wm. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 42 (1765).
  6. ^ Surya Dev Rai v. Ram Chander Rai, (2003) 6 SCC 675 (India)(internal quotation omitted) indiankanoon.org
  7. ^ The Oyez Project, Justice James Wilson [1] (last visited April 4, 2011).
  8. ^ 2 The Works of James Wilson 149–50 (J. D. Andrews ed., 1896).
  9. ^ India Const. art. 32, cl. 2 Archived September 9, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Kirk v Industrial Relations Commission [2010] HCA 1; Klewer v Dutch [2000] FCA 509
  11. ^ Anisminic Ltd v Foreign Compensation Comm'n [1969] 2 AC 147; [1969] 2 WLR 163 (Court may correct any lower court decision "depart[ing] from the rules of natural justice," per Lord Pierce) [2]
  12. ^ Ch. 517, 26 Stat. 826 (1891).
  13. ^ Russel R. Wheeler & Cynthia Harrison, Fed. Judicial Ctr., Creating the Federal Judicial System 17–18 (3d ed. 2005).
  14. ^ Wheeler & Harrison, supra, at 12, 16.
  15. ^ Judiciary Act of 1891 § 6., 26 Stat. at 828.
  16. ^ § 6, 26 Stat. at 828.
  17. ^ Supreme Court Case Selections Act, Pub.L. 100-352, 102 Stat. 662 (1988)
  18. ^ United States Supreme Court Rule 33
  19. ^ Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., 556 U.S. 868, __ (2009) (Roberts, C.J., dissenting) (slip op. at 11). See also https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/justicecaseload.pdf (10,000 cases in the mid-2000s); Melanie Wachtell & David Thompson, An Empirical Analysis of Supreme Court Certiorari Petition Procedures 16 Geo. Mason U. L. Rev. 237, 241 (2009) (7500 cases per term); Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Remarks at University of Guanajuato, Mexico, 9/27/01 (same).
  20. ^ Thompson, David C.; Wachtell, Melanie F. (2009). "An Empirical Analysis of Supreme Court Certiorari Petition Procedures". George Mason University Law Review. 16 (2): 237, 249. SSRN 1377522.
  21. ^ TIPTON V. SOCONY MOBIL OIL CO., INC., 375 U. S. 34 (1963)
  22. ^ 515 U.S. 70 (1995)
  23. ^ "Supreme Court - Judicial Duties". New Hampshire Judicial Branch. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  24. ^ Stoneking, Jay (1 October 2014). "State of West Virginia v. McKinley". West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Blog. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  25. ^ "Rules of Appellate Procedure - Part III". West Virginia Judiciary. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  26. ^ a b c Steiner, Mark E. (February 1999). "Not Fade Away: The Continuing Relevance of 'Writ Refused' Opinions". The Appellate Advocate. 12: 3–6.
  27. ^ Sarti v. Salt Creek Ltd., 167 Cal. App. 4th 1187, 85 Cal. Rptr. 3d 506 (2008).
  28. ^ Mountain View Coach Lines, Inc. v. Storms, 102 A.D.2d 663, 476 N.Y.S.2d 918 (2d Dept. 1984).
  29. ^ "Rules of Court". www.lawphil.net. Retrieved 2016-06-29.

Further reading



Cert or CERT may refer to:

Certificate (disambiguation), several meanings

Certiorari, a Latin legal term for a court order requiring judicial review of a case

Certiorari before judgment, a specific form of a writ of certiorari

Cert pool, shorthand term for the pool of applicants for a writ of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court

Carbon Emission Reduction Target, a United Kingdom government initiative

Correctional Emergency Response Team, a team of correction officers

Council of Energy Resource Tribes, a consortium of tribes to establish tribal control over natural resources

Council of Education, Recruitment and Training Irish hospitality training authority 1963–2003

Computer emergency response team, an expert group that handles computer security incidents

CERT Coordination Center, the worldwide center for coordinating information about Internet security at Carnegie Mellon University, the first and most well-known CERT

CERT C Coding Standard, developed by the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)

CERT Group of Companies, a private education provider in the Middle East

Community emergency response team, teams of volunteer emergency responders across the United States

Constant extension rate tensile testing, a standard method of testing of materials, also known as slow strain rate testing

Certiorari before judgment

A petition for certiorari before judgment, in the Supreme Court of the United States, is a petition for a writ of certiorari in which the Supreme Court is asked to immediately review the decision of a United States District Court, without an appeal having been decided by a United States Court of Appeals, for the purpose of expediting the proceedings and obtaining a final decision.

Certiorari before judgment is rarely granted. Supreme Court Rule 11 provides that this procedure will be followed "only upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this Court." A writ of certiorari before judgment may be granted only in federal cases, and is not necessary in those cases where a statute authorizes a direct appeal from a District Court to the Supreme Court.

Well-known cases in which the Supreme Court has granted certiorari before judgment and heard the case on an expedited basis have included Ex parte Quirin (1942), United States v. United Mine Workers (1947), Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952), United States v. Nixon (1974), Dames & Moore v. Regan (1981), Northern Pipeline Co. v. Marathon Pipe Line Co. (1982), United States v. Booker (2005) and Department of Commerce v. New York (2019).In United States v. Windsor (2013), both sides filed petitions for certiorari before judgment, but it was only granted after judgment by the Second Circuit.

Court of Appeals of the Philippines

The Court of Appeals of the Philippines (Filipino: Hukuman ng Apelasyon ng Pilipinas) is the second-highest judicial court in the Philippines, next to the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals consists of 1 Presiding Justice and 68 Associate Justices. Pursuant to the Constitution, the Court of Appeals "reviews not only the decisions and orders of the Regional Trial Courts nationwide but also those of the Court of Tax Appeals, as well as the awards, judgments, final orders or resolutions of, or authorized by twenty-one (21) quasi-judicial agencies exercising quasi-judicial functions mentioned in Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, plus the National Amnesty Commission (Pres. Proclamation No. 347 of 1994) and the Office of the Ombudsman (Fabian v. Desierto, 295 SCRA 470). Under Republic Act No. 9282, which elevated the Court of Tax Appeals to the same level of the Court of Appeals, en banc decisions of the Court of Tax Appeals are now subject to review by the Supreme Court instead of the Court of Appeals (as opposed to what is currently provided in Section 1, Rule 43 of the Rules of Court). Added to the formidable list are the decisions and resolutions of the National Labor Relations Commission which are now initially reviewable by the Court of Appeals, instead of a direct recourse to the Supreme Court, via petition for certiorari under Rule 65 (St. Martin Funeral Homes v. National Labor Relations Commission, 295 SCRA 414)".

The Court of Appeals building is located at Ma. Orosa Street, Ermita in Manila, on the grounds of the University of the Philippines Manila.

Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity

The Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity (also known as the History Commission or Max Jakobson Commission) was the commission established by President of Estonia Lennart Meri in October 1998 to investigate crimes against humanity committed in Estonia or against its citizens during the Soviet and German occupation, such as Soviet deportations from Estonia and the Holocaust in Estonia.

It held its first session in Tallinn in January 1999. To promote independent inquiry and avoid conflict of interest, there were no Estonian citizens among its members. Finnish diplomat Max Jakobson was appointed chairman of the commission.

Research of the Commission has been relied on by the European Court of Human Rights, for example in its decision to not grant certiorari to review a complaint by August Kolk and Pyotr Kislyy, who had been convicted of crimes against humanity due to their roles in the Soviet deportations from Estonia.The Commission fulfilled its purpose by 2007 and was succeeded by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.

Fujifilm Corp. v. Benun

Fujifilm Corp v. Benun, 605 F.3d 1366 (Fed. Cir. 2010) was a case in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment made by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey that the defendants infringed patents owned by Fujifilm Corporation.

High Courts of Pakistan

There are five High Courts of Pakistan, each of four based in the capital city of one of the four provinces. The government has proposed a fifth high court to cover the Islamabad Capital Territory. This proposal was blocked by the Lahore High Court but that decision was overturned by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 24 December 2007. In 18th Constitutional amendment, Islamabad High Court is established.

The Constitution of Pakistan, 1956, Article 170, its text runs as:

"Notwithstanding anything contained in Article 22, each High Court shall have power throughout the territories in relation to which it exercise jurisdiction, to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases any Government directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part II and for any other purpose.”

Judiciary Act of 1925

The Judiciary Act of 1925 (43 Stat. 936), also known as the Judge's Bill or Certiorari Act, was an act of the United States Congress that sought to reduce the workload of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Judiciary of Greece

The Judicial system of Greece is the country's constitutionally established system of courts.

Maryland Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals of Maryland is the supreme court of the U.S. state of Maryland. The court, which is composed of one chief judge and six associate judges, meets in the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building in the state capital, Annapolis. The term of the Court begins the second Monday of September. The Court is unique among American courts in that the judges wear red robes. The Maryland Court of Appeals joins the New York Court of Appeals in being the only two state highest courts to bear the name "Court of Appeals" rather than "Supreme Court".

Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency

Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), is a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court case in which twelve states and several cities of the United States brought suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force that federal agency to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) as pollutants.

Microdecisions, Inc. v. Skinner

Microdecisions, Inc. v. Skinner, 889 So.2d 871 (Fla. 2d Dist. App. 2004), was a case before the Florida Second District Court of Appeal concerning whether Abe Skinner, the Collier County, Florida Property Appraiser could require prospective commercial users of the official GIS records created in his office to first enter into a licensing agreement. The court concluded that he may not. While no one disputed the GIS maps were public record, Skinner argued they were protected by federal copyright law. In the decision, the court held that "Skinner has no authority to assert copyright protection in the GIS maps, which are public records." In support of this, the Court held that the "Florida public records law ... overrides a governmental agency's ability to claim a copyright in its work unless the legislature has expressly authorized a public records exemption." Additionally, the Court confirmed "Florida's Constitution and its statutes do not permit public records to be copyrighted unless the legislature specifically states they can be."This was a Florida District Court of Appeal decision, but the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear the case and ordered the Skinner (as Collier County Property Appraiser) to pay Microdecisions' attorney's fees. The United States Supreme Court affirmed the lower Court's ruling when it refused to hear the case by denying certiorari review.The case was cited as providing the main reasoning for the decision in County of Santa Clara v. California First Amendment Coalition by the 4th District of the California Courts of Appeal.

Moonlight Fire

The Moonlight Fire was a wildfire that burned near Westwood in Lassen County, California. The fire, which started on Labor Day, September 3, 2007 scorched 64,997 acres (263 km2) before being contained on September 19. Approximately 2,300 firefighters were involved in fighting the fire. Strong winds pushed smoke to the Sacramento Valley, Bay Area, Nevada and Idaho. In Plumas County, 500 homes were threatened by the Moonlight Fire; 100 residences were evacuated near Greenville in the North Arm area of Indian Valley, as the wild fire was still raging in the Plumas National Forest.

Obergefell v. Hodges

Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015) ( OH-bər-gə-fel), is a landmark civil rights case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 5–4 ruling requires all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the Insular Areas to perform and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples on the same terms and conditions as the marriages of opposite-sex couples, with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities.Between January 2012 and February 2014, plaintiffs in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee filed federal district court cases that culminated in Obergefell v. Hodges. After all district courts ruled for the plaintiffs, the rulings were appealed to the Sixth Circuit. In November 2014, following a lengthy series of appeals court rulings that year from the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits that state-level bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, the Sixth Circuit ruled that it was bound by Baker v. Nelson and found such bans to be constitutional. This created a split between circuits and led to an almost inevitable Supreme Court review.

Decided on June 26, 2015, Obergefell overturned Baker and requires all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions. This established same-sex marriage throughout the United States and its territories. In a majority opinion authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court examined the nature of fundamental rights guaranteed to all by the Constitution, the harm done to individuals by delaying the implementation of such rights while the democratic process plays out, and the evolving understanding of discrimination and inequality that has developed greatly since Baker.Prior to Obergefell, same-sex marriage had already been established by law, court ruling, or voter initiative in thirty-six states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.

People v. Freeman

People v. Freeman was a criminal prosecution of Harold Freeman, a producer and director of pornographic films, by the U.S. State of California. Freeman was charged in 1987 with pandering - procurement of persons "for the purpose of prostitution" - under section 266i of the Cal. Penal Code for hiring adult actors, which the prosecution characterized as pimping. The prosecution was part of an attempt by California to shut down the pornographic film industry. The prosecution's characterization was ultimately rejected on appeal by the California Supreme Court. Prior to this decision, pornographic films had often been shot in secret locations.

Freeman was initially convicted, and lost on appeal to the California Court of Appeal. The trial judge, however, thought jail would be an unreasonably harsh penalty for Freeman's conduct, and sentenced him to probation, despite the fact that this was explicitly contrary to the statute. The State appealed this sentence but lost.

Freeman appealed to the California Supreme Court, which subsequently overturned his conviction, finding that the California pandering statute was not intended to cover the hiring of actors who would be engaging in sexually explicit but non-obscene performances. Freeman could only have been lawfully convicted of pandering if he had paid the actors for the purpose of sexually gratifying himself or the actors. The court relied upon the language of the statute for this interpretation, as well as the need to avoid a conflict with the First Amendment right to free speech. The court viewed Freeman's conviction as "a somewhat transparent attempt at an 'end run' around the First Amendment and the state obscenity laws."

The State of California unsuccessfully tried to have this judgment overturned by the United States Supreme Court. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor denied a stay of the California Supreme Court's judgment, while being critical of its First Amendment reasoning noting "it must certainly be true that otherwise illegal conduct is not made legal by being filmed" she found it unlikely the petition for certiorari would be granted because the California Supreme Court's ruling was founded on an adequate and independent basis of state law. The full Court subsequently denied the petition for certiorari.

As a result, the making of hardcore pornography was effectively legalized in California.

In 2008, in the case of New Hampshire v. Theriault, the New Hampshire Supreme Court, citing Freeman, upheld the distinction between pornography production and prostitution in that state.

Prerogative writ

A prerogative writ is a writ (official order) directing the behavior of another arm of government, such as an agency, official, or other court. It was originally available only to the Crown under English law, and reflected the discretionary prerogative and extraordinary power of the monarch. The term may be considered antiquated, and the traditional six comprising writs may also be identified as an extraordinary writ or extraordinary remedy.Six writs are traditionally classified as prerogative writs:

certiorari, an order by a higher court directing a lower court to send the record in a given case for review;

habeas corpus, a demand that a prisoner be taken before the court to determine whether there is lawful authority to detain the person;

mandamus, an order issued by a higher court to compel or to direct a lower court or a government officer to perform mandatory duties correctly;

prohibition, directing a subordinate to stop doing something the law prohibits;

procedendo, to send a case from an appellate court to a lower court with an order to proceed to judgment;

quo warranto, requiring a person to show by what authority they exercise a power.Additionally, scire facias, one of the extraordinary writs, was once known as a prerogative writ.

Procedures of the Supreme Court of the United States

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. The procedures of the Supreme Court of the United States are governed by the U.S. Constitution, various federal statutes, and the Court's own internal rules. Since 1869, the Court has consisted of one chief justice and eight associate justices. Justices are nominated by the president, and with the advice and consent (confirmation) of the U.S. Senate, appointed to the Court by the president. Once appointed, justices have lifetime tenure unless they resign, retire, or are removed from office.

Established pursuant to Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution in 1789, it has original jurisdiction over a small range of cases, such as suits between two or more states, and those involving ambassadors. It also has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all federal court and state court cases that involve a point of constitutional or statutory law. Most of the cases the Supreme Court hears are appeals from lower courts. Moreover, the Court has the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution or an executive act for being unlawful. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction. The Court may decide cases having political overtones, but does not have power to decide nonjusticiable political questions.


SCOTUSblog is a law blog written by lawyers, law professors, and law students about the Supreme Court of the United States (sometimes abbreviated "SCOTUS"). The blog was formerly sponsored by Bloomberg Law. The site tracks cases before the Court from the certiorari stage through the merits stage. The site live blogs as the Court announces opinions and grants cases, and sometimes has information on the Court's actions published before either the Court or any other news source does. The site frequently hosts symposiums with leading experts on the cases before the Court. The site comprehensively covers all of the cases argued before the Court and maintains an archive of the briefing and other documents in each case.

Steven Avery

Steven Allan Avery (born July 9, 1962) is an American convicted murderer from Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, who had previously been wrongfully convicted in 1985 of sexual assault and attempted murder. After serving 18 years of a 20-year sentence, he was exonerated by DNA testing and released, only to be charged with murder two years later.In 2003, Avery filed a $36 million lawsuit against Manitowoc County, its former sheriff, and its former district attorney for wrongful conviction and imprisonment. In November 2005, with his civil suit still pending, he was arrested for the murder of Wisconsin photographer Teresa Halbach, and in 2007 was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. The conviction was upheld by higher courts.Avery's 2003 exoneration prompted widespread discussion of Wisconsin's criminal justice system. The Criminal Justice Reform Bill, enacted into law in 2005, implemented reforms aimed at preventing future wrongful convictions.

Avery's 2007 murder trial and its associated issues are the focus of the 2015 Netflix original documentary series Making a Murderer, which also covered the arrest and 2007 conviction of Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey. In August 2016, a federal judge overturned Dassey's conviction on the grounds that his confession had been coerced. In June 2017, Wisconsin prosecutors appealed this decision.

In December 2017, a panel of seven judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of upholding the original conviction by a vote of 4 to 3, ruling that police had properly obtained Dassey's confession. On February 20, 2018, Dassey's legal team, including former Solicitor General of the United States Seth Waxman, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. On June 25, 2018, certiorari was denied.

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