Quo Warranto in the District of Columbia Code

From time to time The Post & Email will reprint in their entirety, pertinent laws and statutes which are in the news.  Such is the Quo Warranto Statute in the District of Columbia Code, following the on-line debate that has arisen from actions in the case Barnett vs. Obama. The following is the current version of chapter 35 of the D.C. Code, according to D.C. LAW 17-288, which became effective on DECEMBER 24, 2008, by D.C. ACT 17-602.

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CHAPTER 35: QUO WARRANTO

SUBCHAPTER I —  ACTIONS AGAINST OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES

SUBCHAPTER II — ACTIONS AGAINST OFFICERS OR CORPORATIONS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

SUBCHAPTER III — PROCEDURES AND JUDGMENTS

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SUBCHAPTER I: ACTIONS AGAINST OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES

§ 16-3501. Persons against whom issued; civil action.
§ 16-3502. Parties who may institute; ex rel. proceedings.
§ 16-3503. Refusal of Attorney General or United States attorney to act; procedure.
§ 16-3501. Persons against whom issued; civil action.

A quo warranto may be issued from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in the name of the United States against a person who within the District of Columbia usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises, a franchise conferred by the United States or a public office of the United States, civil or military. The proceedings shall be deemed a civil action.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 602, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 562, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3501; 1981 Ed., § 16-3501.)

§ 16-3502. Parties who may institute; ex rel. proceedings.

The Attorney General of the United States or the United States attorney may institute a proceeding pursuant to this subchapter on his own motion or on the relation of a third person. The writ may not be issued on the relation of a third person except by leave of the court, to be applied for by the relator, by a petition duly verified setting forth the grounds of the application, or until the relator files a bond with sufficient surety, to be approved by the clerk of the court, in such penalty as the court prescribes, conditioned on the payment by him of all costs incurred in the prosecution of the writ if costs are not recovered from and paid by the defendant.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 602, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 562, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3502; 1981 Ed., § 16-3502.)

§ 16-3503. Refusal of Attorney General or United States attorney to act; procedure.

If the Attorney General or United States attorney refuses to institute a quo warranto proceeding on the request of a person interested, the interested person may apply to the court by certified petition for leave to have the writ issued. When, in the opinion of the court, the reasons set forth in the petition are sufficient in law, the writ shall be allowed to be issued by any attorney, in the name of the United States, on the relation of the interested person on his compliance with the condition prescribed by section 16-3502 as to security for costs.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 602, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 562, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3503; 1981 Ed., § 16-3503.)

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SUBCHAPTER II: ACTIONS AGAINST OFFICERS OR CORPORATIONS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

§ 16-3521. Persons against whom issued; civil action.
§ 16-3522. Parties who may institute; ex rel. proceedings.
§ 16-3523. Refusal of United States attorney or Attorney General of the District of Columbia to act; procedures.
§ 16-3521. Persons against whom issued; civil action.

A quo warranto may be issued from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in the name of the District of Columbia against –

(1) a person who within the District of Columbia usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises, a franchise conferred by the District of Columbia, a public office of the District of Columbia, civil or military, or an office in a domestic corporation; or

(2) one or more persons who act as a corporation within the District of Columbia without being duly authorized, or exercise within the District of Columbia corporate rights, privileges, or franchises not granted them by law in force in the District of Columbia.

The proceedings shall be deemed a civil action.

(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 562, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3521; 1981 Ed., § 16-3521.)

§ 16-3522. Parties who may institute; ex rel. proceedings.

The United States attorney or the Attorney General of the District of Columbia may institute a proceeding pursuant to this subchapter on his own motion, or on the relation of a third person. The writ may not be issued on the relation of a third person except by leave of the court, to be applied for by the relator, by a petition duly verified, setting forth the grounds of the application, or until the relator files a bond with sufficient surety, to be approved by the clerk of the court, in such penalty as the court prescribes, conditioned on the payment by him of all costs incurred in the prosecution of the writ if costs are not recovered from and paid by the defendant.

(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 562, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3522; 1981 Ed., § 16-3522; May 26, 2004, Mayor’s Order 2004-92, § 4, 51 DCR 6052.)

§ 16-3523. Refusal of United States attorney or Attorney General of the District of Columbia to act; procedures.

If the United States attorney or Attorney General of the District of Columbia refuses to institute a quo warranto proceeding on the request of a person interested, the interested person may apply to the court by certified petition for leave to have the writ issued. When, in the opinion of the court, the reasons set forth in the petition are sufficient in law, the writ shall be allowed to be issued by any attorney, in the name of the District of Columbia, on the relation of the interested person, on his compliance with the conditions prescribed by section 16-3522 as to security for costs.

(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 563, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3523; May 26, 2004, Mayor’s Order 2004-92, § 4, 51 DCR 6052.)

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SUBCHAPTER III:  PROCEDURES AND JUDGMENTS

§ 16-3541. Allegations in petition of relator claiming office.
§ 16-3542. Notice to defendant.
§ 16-3543. Proceedings on default.
§ 16-3544. Pleading; jury trial.
§ 16-3545. Verdict and judgment.
§ 16-3546. Usurping corporate franchise; judgment.
§ 16-3547. Proceedings against corporate directors and trustees; judgment and order; enforcement.
§ 16-3548. Recovery of damages from usurper; limitation.
§ 16-3541. Allegations in petition of relator claiming office.

When a quo warranto proceeding is against a person for usurping an office, on the relation of a person claiming the same office, the relator shall set forth in his petition the facts upon which he claims to be entitled to the office.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 602, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 563, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3541; 1981 Ed., § 16-3541.)

§ 16-3542. Notice to defendant.

On the issuing of a writ of quo warranto the court may fix a time within which the defendant may appear and answer the writ. When the defendant cannot be found in the District of Columbia, the court may direct notice to be given to him by publication as in other cases of proceedings against nonresident defendants, and upon proof of publication, if the defendant does not appear, judgment may be rendered as if he had been personally served.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 602, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 563, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3542; 1981 Ed., § 16-3542.)

§ 16-3543. Proceedings on default.

If the defendant does not appear as required by a writ of quo warranto, after being served, the court may proceed to hear proof in support of the writ and render judgment accordingly.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 603, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 563, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3543; 1981 Ed., § 16-3543.)

§ 16-3544. Pleading; jury trial.

In a quo warranto proceeding, the defendant may demur, plead specially, or plead “not guilty” as the general issue, and the United States or the District of Columbia, as the case may be, may reply as in other actions of a civil character. Issues of fact shall be tried by a jury if either party requests it. Otherwise they shall be determined by the court.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 603, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 563, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3544; 1981 Ed., § 16-3544.)

§ 16-3545. Verdict and judgment.

Where a defendant in a quo warranto proceeding is found by the jury to have usurped, intruded into, or unlawfully held or exercised an office or franchise, the verdict shall be that he is guilty of the act or acts in question, and judgment shall be rendered that he be ousted and excluded therefrom and that the relator recover his costs.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 603, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 563, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3545; 1981 Ed., § 16-3545.)

§ 16-3546. Usurping corporate franchise; judgment.

Where a quo warranto proceeding is against persons acting as a corporation without being legally incorporated, the judgment against the defendants shall be that they be perpetually restrained and enjoined from the commission or continuance of the acts complained of.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 603, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 563, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3546; 1981 Ed., § 16-3546.)

§ 16-3547. Proceedings against corporate directors and trustees; judgment and order; enforcement.

Where a quo warranto proceeding is against a director or trustee of a corporation and the court finds that at his election either illegal votes were received or legal votes rejected, or both, sufficient to change the result if the error is corrected, the court may render judgment that the defendant be ousted, and that the relator, if entitled to be declared elected, be admitted to the office, and the court may issue an order to the proper parties, being officers or members of the corporation, to admit him to the office. The judgment may require the defendant to deliver to the relator all books, papers, and other things in his custody or control pertaining to the office, and obedience to judgment may be enforced by attachment.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 603, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 564, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3547; 1981 Ed., § 16-3547.)

§ 16-3548. Recovery of damages from usurper; limitation.

At any time within a year from a judgment in a quo warranto proceeding, the relator may bring an action against the party ousted and recover the damages sustained by the relator by reason of the ousted party’s usurpation of the office to which the relator was entitled.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 603, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 564, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(n); 1973 Ed., § 16-3548; 1981 Ed., § 16-3548.)

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0 Responses to "Quo Warranto in the District of Columbia Code"

  1. Pingback: A History of Quo Warranto «

  2. billvanallen   Friday, October 9, 2009 at 6:50 PM

    note I just sent to Leo Donofrio’s Natural Born Citizen blog

    Dear Natural Born Citizen/ Leo Donofrio:

    Mr. Strunk tells me he has communicated directly with you via this blog — regarding the multi-district litigation strategy for effectively bringing on the quo warranto issue. I look forward to your eventual analysis of the multi-district litigation statutes in general, and specifically with regards to quo warranto.

    billvanallen

  3. Pingback: D.C. Code on Quo Warranto explains McCain’s Candidacy «

  4. AllCasesWhatSoEver   Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 5:20 PM

    Congress has two distinct legislative functions.
    1)They write laws based on enumerated powers that operate within the states based on coextensive jurisdiction.

    2)The legislate in all cases whatsoever in DC (federal zone)

    This is plain and simple. However, they do not indicate in the Statutes at Large which role they are playing.

    We can easily get a glimpse of their role and intent through the simple fact that 31 Stat. 1419 was codified into the DC municipal code and NOT the US Code.

    I agree with Leo that 16-3501 et al can be used to bring quo warranto in the district court of DC. No doubt!

    However, this municipal DC statute can in no way abrogate any quo warranto proceeding outside DC.

    It is an inane concept which is no different than suggesting that a French law could operate within the jurisdiction of China.

    FreeState above asks the obvious and devastating question: Was there no quo warranto before 1901?

    PS John, you are the gracious one and the “typo” correction is the evidence for that. Leo is heroic, but he needs to realize that his arguments can only become stronger when people attempt to poke holes in them.

  5. Harry H   Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 2:46 PM

    Somehow an “interested person” should be put in touch with Leo Donofrio so that his view of quo warranto can be implemented. He makes it sound simple and straightforward to file a petition. I suspect the DOJ would try to stop it, but the attempt should be made, the sooner the better.

  6. Harvey Wharfield   Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 1:53 PM

    Mr. Charlton replies: Dear Mr. Wharfield, if someone can find the location at archive.org for this case, I would greatly appreciate it. I don’t have access to pacer, and would like the pdf for the pleadings in this case, you mention.

  7. John Charlton   Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 11:45 AM

    May has always meant an allowed possibility, and never a stricture exluding other possibilities. One would have to read the law which established this chapter to see legislative intent. That law might have the stricture.

    The relevant law is found in the U.S. Statutes at large in vol. 31

    http://www.constitution.org/uslaw/sal/sal.htm

    If anyone has a super fast connection to the web and can get the text of this law, and email it to me, please do so: the file is over 100 MB big—my connection would not last the 9 hours necessary to download it.

    I need the Act of March 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1419.

    Don’t email me the 100 MB file, just the pages of the law. You can use a PDF extractor to extract just the right pages.

  8. FreeStateYank   Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 11:25 AM

    I posted the following over at Leo Denofrio’s

    “In 1901, Congress specifically authorized the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to issue quo warranto in the name of the United States. Act of March 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1419, Title 16, Section 1601 of the D.C. Code (1940). However, this grant is strictly limited and is confined solely to situations involving franchises and public offices held within the District of Columbia. There is no other specific statutory provision vesting original jurisdiction in the district courts in quo warranto actions.“

    Is there an argument for a general statutory provision vesting original jurisdiction?

    Also, what was the process prior to 1901? Did the 1901 Congressional act to specifically authorize the DC District Court for Quo Warranto action overreach, abrogate, violate, or otherwise limit or deny a constitutional or even unalienable right for Quo Warranto actions elsewhere?

    If one disagrees than one must show a statute that uses the word “may” to authorize the California District Court to bring such an action.

    Since the question is the application of the word ‘may’ as an imperative, meaning ‘shall’, would it not stand to reason that any statutory act in which ‘may’ has been established to mean ‘can, but not exclusively limited to’ would be sufficient to put a wedge in the door for Judge Carter?

    Finally, if a statute has not been specifically granted or was inappropriately granted, the logic of waiting until the correct statute appears before action can be taken, would appear to limit a plaintiff’s legitimate right to redress as granted within the constitution?

    Thus, Judge Carter might find that his court does have jurisdiction, the plaintiff’s standing, and if the DOJ is in disagreement, it would bump straight up to SCOTUS, which is where this will end up anyway, per Judge Carter’s own words. It will also end up before SCOTUS far more quickly than it would by winding it’s way back to DC.

    Look at Honduras:

    Finally, the full statute for Quo Warranto appears to parallel Honduras’ Constitution in terms of removal from office if the individual in power has been found guilty of violating the constitution. Zelya’s case, attempted usurpation, Obama’s de facto usurpation. No wonder Obama wanted Zeleya reinstated.

    Does this line of reasoning hold the possibility of prevailing? If not, where did I go wrong?

    *** All of this may be moot if the DC Court quo warranto applicant is joined, per your most recent post.

  9. billvanallen   Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 8:43 AM

    Mr. Charlton replies:

    Dear Bill Van Allen,

    Thank for the Letter, I have published it in a separate post. See our main page.

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