Writ of Error – directs a lower court to deliver the record in the case for review

Writ of Error:

(15c.) l. A writ issued by an appellate court directing a lower court to
deliver the record in the case for review. Cf. ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR.

     Excerpt from Benjamin J. Shipman, Handbook of Common-Law Pleading § 337, at 538 (Henry Winthrop Ballantine ed., 3d ed.

     “The writ of error is the most common of all the forms of remedial process available to an unsuccessful party after a final determination of the merits of the action, and is in common use in this country at the present time, where the common-law modes of procedure are followed.  Its object… is to obtain a reversal of the judgment, either by reason of some error in fact affecting the validity and regularity of the legal decision itself, or on account of some mistake or error in law, apparent upon the face of the record, from which the judgment appears to have been given for the wrong party.

  • Writ of Error Coram Nobis: “[Latin ‘before us’] (16c.) 1. Hist. A writ of error taken from a judgment of the King’s Bench. “Before us” refers to the sovereign, in contrast to the writ coram vobis (‘before you’), which refers to any court other
    than King’s Bench, esp. the Court of Common Pleas. 2. A writ of error directed to a court for review of its own judgment and predicated on alleged errors of fact. -Also termed writ of error coram nobis; comm nobis; (misspelled) quorum nobis. See ‘coram nobis motion’ under Motions.”
  • Writ of Error Coram Vobis: “n. [Latin ‘before you’] Hist. 1. A writ of error directed to a court other than the King’s Bench, especially the Court of Common Pleas, to review its judgment.”

Excerpt from1 William Holdsworth, A History of English Law 224 (7th
ed. 1956):

Certain errors in the process of the court, committed by the defaults of the clerks, or as to matters of fact, could be remedied by the court itself. The writ issued for this purpose was called a writ of error ‘coram vobis’ if the error was in the Common Pleas; ‘coram nobis’ if it was in the King’s Bench.

  • Writ of Error Coram Vobis (second definition): A writ of error sent by an
    appellate court to a trial court to review the trial court’s judgment based on an
    error of fact. – Also termed writ of error coram vobis; coram vobis.”

Writ of Error (second definition):

Hist. A writ issued by a Chancery court, at the request of a party who was unsuccessful at trial, directing the trial court either to
examine the record itself or to send it to another court of appellate jurisdiction to be
examined, so that some alleged error in the proceedings may be corrected.”


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

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