quo warranto

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Quo Warranto

A legal proceeding during which an individual's right to hold an office or governmental privilege is challenged.

In old English practice, the writ of quo warranto—an order issued by authority of the king—was one of the most ancient and important writs. It has not, however, been used for centuries, since the procedure and effect of the judgment were so impractical.

Currently the former procedure has been replaced by an information in the nature of a quo warranto, an extraordinary remedy by which a prosecuting attorney, who represents the public at large, challenges someone who has usurped a public office or someone who, through abuse or neglect, has forfeited an office to which she was entitled. In spite of the fact that the remedy of quo warranto is pursued by a prosecuting attorney in a majority of jurisdictions, it is ordinarily regarded as a civil rather than criminal action. Quo warranto is often the only proper legal remedy; however, the legislature can enact legislation or provide other forms of relief.

Statutes describing quo warranto usually indicate where it is appropriate. Ordinarily it is proper to try the issue of whether a public office or authority is being abused. For example, it might be used to challenge the Unauthorized Practice of a profession, such as law or medicine. In such situations, the challenge is an assertion that the defendant is not qualified to hold the position she claims—a medical doctor, for example.

In some quo warranto proceedings, the issue is whether the defendant is entitled to hold the office he claims, or to exercise the authority he presumes to have from the government. In addition, proceedings have challenged the right to the position of county commissioner, treasurer, school board member, district attorney, judge, or tax commissioner. In certain jurisdictions, quo warranto is a proper proceeding to challenge individuals who are acting as officers or directors of business corporations.

A prosecuting attorney ordinarily commences quo warranto proceedings; however, a statute may authorize a private person to do so without the consent of the prosecutor. Unless otherwise provided by statute, a court permits the filing of an information in the nature of quo warranto after an exercise of sound discretion, since quo warranto is an extraordinary exercise of power and is not to be invoked lightly. Quo warranto is not a right available merely because the appropriate legal documents are filed. Valid reason must be indicated to justify governmental interference with the individual holding the challenged office, privilege, or license.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

quo warranto

(kwoh wahr-rahn-toe) n. the name for a writ (order) used to challenge another's right to either public or corporate office or challenge the legality of a corporation to its charter (articles). (See: writ, corporation)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

quo warranto

‘by what authority’, the name of an obsolete writ issued by the King's Bench to demand to know the authority by which a person held a public office.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

QUO WARRANTO, remedies. By what authority or warrant. The name of a writ issued in the name of a government against any person or corporation that usurps any franchise or office, commanding the sheriff of the county to summon the defendant to be and appear before the court whence the writ issued, at a time and place therein named, to show "quo warranto" he claims the franchise or office mentioned in the writ. Old Nat. Br. 149; 5 Wheat. 291; 15 Mass. 125; 5 Ham. 358; 1 Miss. 115.
     2. This writ has become obsolete, having given way to informations in the nature of a quo warranto at the common law; Ang. on Corp. 469; it is authorized in Pennsylvania by legislative sanction. Act 14 June, 1836. Vide 1 Vern. 156; Yelv. 190; 7 Com. Dig. 189; 17 Vin. Ab. 177.
     3. An information in the nature of a quo warranto, although a criminal proceeding in form, in substance, is a civil one. 1 Serg. & Rawle, 382.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Thus, a candidate seeking a recount of the ballots through an election protest will have to file a separate quo warranto petition if needed.
Te believed that other quo warranto cases may be filed before the SC, but the circumstances must be exactly similar to those in the Sereno case for the decision to apply.
'But having said that, technically the Senators can still pass a resolution which expresses the sense of the Senate insofar as the quo warranto is concerned.'
This inconsistent language creates unnecessary confusion about when a future petition for quo warranto would be ripe for this Court's consideration," Quince said.
The superior courts in Pakistan, while exercising the jurisdiction of 'quo warranto', can directly examine the qualification of any parliamentarian.
But the High Court waived the said prescription period when it ruled to grant the quo warranto petition of Solicitor General Jose Calida that led to the ouster of Chief Justice Ma.
Panelo also explained that Rule 66 of the Rules of Court is categorical when it mandates that a quo warranto petition must be commenced within a year after the subject of the petition takes oath.
He maintained the magistrates used the quo warranto as 'legal tool to wage their personal vendetta' against Sereno.
The chief government counsel explained that a quo warranto petition challenges a public officer's eligibility to hold public office and that the framers of the Constitution did not contemplate ineligibility as an impeachable offense.
Bersamin and De Castro voted to grant the quo warranto petition.
The Supreme Court recently ordered the President to comment on the quo warranto petition filed against him by lawyer Elly Pamatong.
The month of May is usually being set aside by the SC for decision writing of the justices, but the Court has set a special en banc session next month to decide on the quo warranto petition.