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Writ Of Coram Nobis

Writ of Coram Nobis, often simply referred to as "Coram Nobis," is a legal remedy used to challenge a wrongful conviction or correct errors in a criminal case after the conclusion of the trial and after all appeals have been pursued. The term "coram nobis" is a Latin word that precisely means "before us" or "in our presence." It signifies that the court is asked to consider a matter in front of the court that was previously unknown or not considered during the trial or appeal.

A writ of coram nobis (also writ of error coram nobis, writ of coram vobis, or writ of error coram vobis) is a legal order allowing a court to correct its original judgment upon discovery of a fundamental error that did not appear in the records of the original judgment's proceedings and that would have prevented the judgment from being pronounced.

The term coram nobis is Latin for "before us" (i.e., the king) and the meaning of its full form, quae coram nobis resident, is "which [things] remain in our presence". The writ of coram nobis, a legal concept, appeared in the English legal system's common law courts in the 1500s.

A few American courts continue to use the writ of coram nobis today. Interestingly, they only use it in criminal cases, not in civil cases. England stopped using this writ around 1907, preferring other methods to correct mistakes. But its usage is alive in the USA. Its forms might vary, but it's active in federal courts, courts in sixteen states, and even the District of Columbia courts.

Petitions for Coram Nobis are filed when new evidence or legal errors come to light that were not available or known at the time of the trial or prior appeals. These errors could include, but are not limited to, issues like prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of counsel, newly discovered evidence, or constitutional violations that could have affected the fairness of the trial. The purpose of Coram Nobis is to correct a fundamental error or injustice that undermines the integrity of the original verdict.

A writ can be granted only by the court where the original judgment was entered, so those seeking to correct a judgment must understand the criteria required for that specific court.

Key characteristics of Writ of Coram Nobis
  • Post-Conviction Relief: Coram Nobis offers help after a trial. It finds out and rectifies unnoticed errors or unfairness from the first trial or appeal.
  • Grounds for Filing: Usual reasons for a Coram Nobis request involve finding new proof that could prove innocence, poor legal help received, official or prosecutor misconduct, or overlooked constitutional rights violation during the trial.
  • Timing: Coram Nobis requests usually come after trying everything else for an appeal. They're a last-ditch effort for those fighting their convictions.
  • Rare Use: Coram Nobis Writs are rarely used. They're typically saved for special instances where the requester can show a big error or unfairness.
  • Process: The process of filing a Coram Nobis request varies depending on the jurisdiction, and the legal requirements for approval differ as well. Typically, it involves submitting a motion or request in the original court where the case was heard.
  • Result: If a Coram Nobis request wins, the court might wipe the original conviction or sentence, allowing for a new trial or other proper help.

Coram Nobis, a legal remedy primarily used in common law legal systems, like in the United States, is not available in India. India follows a legal system that combines elements of different legal systems, and the concept of this specific legal remedy is not part of Indian law.

In India, the legal system provides post-conviction procedures, such as filing an appeal, a revision petition, or a review petition, or a curative petition depending on the circumstances and the applicable laws. These procedures allow for the review of convictions, the introduction of new evidence, or the correction of legal errors, and they are provided under Indian criminal and procedural laws.

If someone believes there has been an error in a criminal case, they should consult with a legal professional to determine the appropriate legal avenue for seeking relief. Post-conviction procedures in India are based on the Indian legal framework, and the specific procedures and standards for relief may vary depending on the nature of the case and the relevant legal provisions.


Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

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