In Maddrey v. Justice of the Peace Court 13, (Del. Supr., Sept. 5, 2008), read opinion here, the Delaware Supreme Court provides a "Guide for Practitioners" on Writs of Certiorari. Although the High Court’s scholarly treatment of this somewhat arcane–but practical and necessary–topic, is more thorough than I can cover in this short post, a helpful reminder for business litigators is that when a landlord is attempting to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent, called a "summary possession" proceeding in Delaware, the Justice of the Peace Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over such actions. The only appeal of a trial on that action is to a three-person Justice of the Peace panel. The trial options end there based on the General Assembly’s statutory framework for this type of proceeding. No traditional appellate review of such a case is available.

Rather, the court discusses the limited and restricted option of a writ of certiorari which is NOT an appeal de novo. Other types of cases from the Justice of the Peace Court are often appealable de novo, however, to the Court of Common Pleas for the State of Delaware.

An erudite analysis of other applications of a writ of certiorari, and  its historic origins, is also included in this important decision that is essential reading for any Delaware lawyer who wants a complete understanding of Delaware practice and procedure, including appeals from various state agencies to the Delaware Superior Court.