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Sunday, October 11, 2009

QUO WARRANTO Proceedings

Leo Donofrio published

Since federal case law pertaining to the writ of quo warranto is so scarce, research on the issue is rather simple. This is why I am shocked and confused as to why the DOJ did not cite the case UNITED STATES of America ex rel. STATE OF WISCONSIN v. FIRST FEDERAL SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION. I recenly explained the strict holding in the case – that no US District Court other than the DC District Court may entertain a quo warranto proceeding.

The deception is circling on all fronts. Decepticons are busy issuing defective legal analysis alleging that there is a private right to bring quo warranto against a United States national office holder. I can tell you with certainty that there is no such right now, and there was none at the common law. But don’t take my word for it. Instead, review the following passages from the leading United States Supreme Court decision pertaining to quo warranto: NEWMAN v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. WILLIAM J. FRIZZELL:

Usurpation of a public office from an early day was treated as a crime, and, like all other crimes, could be prosecuted only in the name of the King by his duly authorized law officers. When a judgment was obtained against the intruder he was not only ousted from his office, but fined for his criminal usurpation. A private citizen could no more prosecute such a proceeding in his own name than he could in his own name prosecute for the crime of murder(Emphasis added.)

There was never a private right to bring quo warranto. It was always brought in the name of the government. This is further illustrated by the SCOTUS as follows:

In 1902 Congress adopted a District Code, containing a chapter on quo warranto which though modeled after the English statute, differed therefrom in several material particulars. The writ was treated as a civil remedy; it was not limited to proceedings against municipal officers, but to all persons who in the District exercised any office, civil or military. It was made available to test the right to exercise a public franchise, or to hold an office in a private corporation. Instead of providing that ‘any person desiring to prosecute‘ might do so with the consent of the court, certain restrictions were imposed and one enlargement of the right was made. These provisions2 have never received judicial interpretation. This case must, therefore, be determined according to the special language of that Code, in the light of general principles applicable to quo warranto,—the prerogative writ by which the government can call upon any person to show by what warrant he holds a public office or exercises a public franchise. (Emphasis added.)

While all of the above sets the stage, the following establishes definitive precedent by the SCOTUS on this issue:

The District Code still treats usurpation of office as a public wrong which can be corrected only by proceeding in the name of the government itself. (Emphasis added.)

And the following is the policy behind the restriction:

But there are so many reasons of public policy against permitting a public officer to be harassed with litigation over his right to hold office, that the Code not only does not authorize a private citizen, on his own motion, to attack the incumbent’s title, but it throws obstacles in the way of all such private attacks. It recognizes, however, that there might be instances in which it would be proper to allow such proceedings to be instituted by a third person, but it provides that such ‘third person’ must not only secure the consent of the law officers of the government, but the consent of the supreme court of the District of Columbia, before he can use the name of the government in quo warranto proceedings. (Emphasis added.)

Beware of false sentinels.

Get ready, you are going to be hearing much more about the writ of quo warranto in the days and weeks ahead.

Leo C. Donofrio Citizen Attorney

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