writ (rit). 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. [Cases: Injunction  202.]

“[W]rits 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 and 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.” W.S. Holdsworth, Sources and Literature of English Law 20 (1925). alias writ.An additional writ issued after another writ of the same kind in the same case. • It derives its name from a Latin phrase that formerly appeared in alias writs: sicut alias praecipimus, meaning “as we at another time commanded.” Cf. alias execution under EXECUTION. [Cases:

Process  45. C.J.S. Process §§ 24, 49.]

alternative writ.A common-law writ commanding the person against whom it is issued either to do a specific thing or to show cause why the court should not order it to be done. [Cases:

Mandamus  158. C.J.S. Mandamus § 343.]

close writ.Hist. 1.A royal writ sealed because the contents were not deemed appropriate for public inspection. Cf. patent writ; CLAUSE ROLLS. 2. A writ directed to a sheriff instead of to a lord.

concurrent writ.A duplicate of an original writ (esp. a summons), issued either at the same

time as the original writ or at any time while the original writ is valid.

counterpart writ.A copy of an original writ, to be sent to a court in another county where the

defendant is located.

extraordinary writ.A writ issued by a court exercising unusual or discretionary power. • Examples are certiorari, habeas corpus, mandamus, and prohibition. — Also termed prerogative writ. [Cases: Courts  207.]

ground writ.Hist. A writ issued in a county having venue of an action in order to allow a writ of capias ad satisfaciendum or of fieri facias to be executed in a county where the defendant or the defendant’s property was found. • These two writs could not be executed in a county other than the county having venue of the action until a ground writ and then a testatum writ were first issued. This requirement was abolished in 1852. Cf. TESTATUM.

judicial writ. 1. A writ issuing from the court to which the original writ was returnable; a writ issued under the private seal of the court and not under the great seal of England. Cf. original writ. 2. Any writ issued by a court.

junior writ.A writ issued at a later time than a similar writ, such as a later writ issued by a

different party or a later writ on a different claim against the same defendant.

optional writ.At common law, an original writ issued when the plaintiff seeks specific damages, such as payment of a liquidated debt. • The writ commands the defendant either to do a


specified thing or to show why the thing has not been done.

original writ.A writ commencing an action and directing the defendant to appear and answer. • In the United States, this writ has been largely superseded by the summons. At common law, this type of writ was a mandatory letter issuing from the court of chancery under the great seal, and in the king’s name, directed to the sheriff of the county where the injury was alleged to have occurred, containing a summary statement of the cause of complaint, and requiring the sheriff in most cases to command the defendant to satisfy the claim or else appear in court to account for not satisfying it. — Sometimes shortened to original. See SUMMONS. [Cases: Process  8. C.J.S. Process § 12.] patent writ (pay-t<<schwa>>nt).Hist. An open writ; one not closed or sealed up. Cf. close


peremptory writ (p<<schwa>>r-emp-t<<schwa>>-ree). At common law, an original writ issued when the plaintiff seeks only general damages, as in an action for trespass. • The writ, which is issued only after the plaintiff gives security for costs, directs the sheriff to have the defendant appear in court. [Cases: Mandamus  179. C.J.S. Mandamus § 376.] pluries writ.See PLURIES. prerogative writ.See extraordinary writ. testatum writ (tes-tay-t<<schwa>>m). See TESTATUM.

vicontiel writ (vI-kon-tee-<<schwa>>l).Hist. A writ triable in the county court. • In the 13th–14th centuries, civil litigation could originate in the county court either by oral plaint or by a writ from the Chancery ordering the sheriff to do justice in a case. The writ that began such a proceeding was called vicontiel because it was addressed to the sheriff. See VICONTIEL(2).

“Vicontiel writs were of two sorts, the one founded on Torts, the other on Contracts. The vicontiel writs adapted for torts, were those of trespass, replegiari facias, nuisance, and others of the like nature; and those of matters of contract were called writs of justicies, which was a command to the sheriff to do justice between the parties ….” 1 George Crompton, Practice Common-Placed: Rules and Cases of Practice in the Courts of King’s Bench and Common Pleas vii–viii (3d ed. 1787).

writ of capias.See CAPIAS.
[Blacks Law 8th]