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Writ of Coram Nobis:
How to Challenge a Court’s Final Judgment in 2024

A Writ of Coram Nobis is a legal term that is used to call to the court’s attention facts that would have changed the judgment but were outside the record and unknown to the court at the time of judgment. The term “Coram Nobis” is Latin for “before us.”
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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What is a Writ of Coram Nobis Used For?

Much like a Motion to Vacate Judgement, a Writ of Coram Nobis is a challenge to a court’s final judgment. The writ requests that the court throw out a conviction in light of new evidence that has become known to the court. The request for review in a Coram Nobis is directed to the court where the defendant was convicted, not an appellate court.

Why is it Called a Writ?

In its classical form, a writ was simply a written order made by the English monarch to a specified person to undertake a certain action.

The etymology of the word “writ” comes from Old English, as a general term denoting written matter, which is itself derived from the Old Germanic base of “write” (gewrit).

What is the Error of Coram Nobis?

An Error of Coram Nobis is filed in a U.S. District Court when there is an error not presented on the record in a trial court which may have resulted in a different outcome at trial. The statutory authority for the writ is in the All-Writs Act in the Judicial Code or 28 U. S. C. § 1651. The Latin translation of the Error of Coram Nobis is “the errors before us.”

Related Article: What Is Legal Standing?

How Do I Bring a Writ of Coram Nobis?

A Writ of Coram Nobis is only available in certain states and in federal court. In California, for example, the law says a defendant can file a Writ of Coram Nobis when:

  • There is some new fact in a case (post-conviction) that was not present during the trial,
  • The new fact would have prevented the court’s final judgment,
  • The defendant’s negligence was not the reason for the omission of the fact during the trial,
  • The newly discovered fact does not reach the merits of the legal issues tried, and
  • The fact is one that could not have been discovered before or during the trial.

Related Article: Burden of Proof Definition

What Does Quo Warranto Mean?

Quo warranto is a Latin term that means “by what warrant” (or authority). A writ of quo warranto is invoked to challenge an individual’s right to hold a public or corporate office. A state may also use a quo warranto action to revoke a corporation’s charter.

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