STANDARDS OF REVIEW: Of a Decision to deny writ of prohibition

Arnett v. Hutchens,  COA, NPO, 6/29/2012

The proper standard of review of a decision to deny a writ of prohibition“depends on the class, or category, of writ case.” Grange Mut. Ins. Co. v. Trude, 151 S.W.3d 803, 810 (Ky. 2004). De novo review is generally the proper standard where the lower court is alleged to be acting outside its jurisdiction, because jurisdiction is generally only a question of law. Id. Thus, we review the denial of the writ de novo, giving no deference to the judgment below. Id.

“The writ of prohibition is extraordinary in nature, and the courts of this Commonwealth have always been cautious and conservative both in entertaining petitions for and in granting such relief.” Appalachian Reg’l Healthcare, Inc. v. Coleman, 239 S.W.3d 49, 52 (Ky. 2007) (internal quotation omitted). As set forth in Hoskins v. Maricle, 150 S.W.3d 1, 10 (Ky. 2004):

A writ of prohibition may be granted upon a showing that (1) the lower court is proceeding or is about to proceed outside of its jurisdiction and there is no remedy through an application to an intermediate court; or (2) that the lower court is acting or is about to act erroneously, although within its jurisdiction, and there exists no adequate remedy by appeal or otherwise and great injustice and irreparable injury will result if the petition is not granted. (Emphasis in original). Richard is challenging the jurisdiction of the district court and argues that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to enter the October 2009 orders.

We note that the purpose of a writ of prohibition is to prevent an action in the lower court from taking place. In this case, there are no allegations that the district court “is proceeding or is about to proceed outside of its jurisdiction . . . .” Hoskins, 150 S.W.3d at 10 (emphasis added). The actions Richard complains of have already taken place. Specifically, the district court entered two orders that required Richard to repay the loan and removed him as guardian. There appears to be no dispute that Richard complied and repaid the loan. Therefore, there is nothing to prohibit in this case. Accordingly, a writ of prohibition was not the appropriate remedy in this case.

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