Writs – written court orders commanding the addressee to do or refrain from doing a specified act:

     Many writs (but not all) have been made obsolete by the simpler Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.   

Writ:
(bef. 12c.)

1. A court’s written order, in the name of a state or other competent legal authority, commanding the addressee to do or refrain from doing some specified act.” [1]

United States Law:

    Early law of the United States inherited the traditional English writ system, in the sense of a rigid set of forms of relief that the law courts were authorized to grant.  The All Writs Act passed in 1789 authorizes United States federal courts to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions & agreeable to the usages & principles of law“.  However, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, adopted in 1938 to govern civil procedure in the U.S. district courts, provide that there is only one form of action in civil cases, & explicitly abolished certain writs by name.

All Writs Act:

U.S. Code Title 28 — JUDICIARY AND JUDICIAL PROCEDURE
PART V 
— PROCEDURE
CHAPTER 111 
— GENERAL PROVISIONS
§1651. Writs

(a) The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.

(b) An alternative writ or rule nisi (“to show cause”) may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction. [2]

    Excerpt from W.S. Holdsworth’s Sources and Literature of English Law:

    “Writs have a long history. We can trace their formal origin to the Anglo-Saxon formulae by which the king used to communicate his pleasure to persons & courts.  The Anglo-Norman writs, which we meet with after the Conquest, are substantially the Anglo-Saxon writs turned into Latin.  But what is new is the much greater use made of them, owing to the increase of royal power which came with the Conquest.”[3]

Writ System:
(1890)

1. The common-law procedural system under which a plaintiff commences an action by obtaining the appropriate type of original writ.

Types of Writs Categorized:

References:

[1]:  All definitions throughout this page from Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: US House of Representatives’ Office of Law Revision Counsel, “U.S. Code Title 28 — JUDICIARY AND JUDICIAL PROCEDURE
PART V — PROCEDURE
CHAPTER 111 — GENERAL PROVISIONS
§1651. Writs”: http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title28/part5/chapter111&edition=prelim

[3]: W.S. Holdsworth, Sources and Literature of English Law 20 (1925)

[4]: Joseph Chitty’s A Practical Treatise on the Criminal Law

[5]: C.J.S.’s Process

[6]:  Article One of the United States Constitution

[7]:  All “Writs”, Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition pages 1845-1849

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Also See:

All Types of Orders

 All Types of Motions

Rules of Procedure

Intro to Law

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Notice: Wild Willpower does not condone the actions of Maximilian Robespierre, however the above quote is excellent!

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