A (writ of) mandamus is an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion. (See, e.g. Cheney v. United States Dist. Court For D.C. (03-475) 542 U.S. 367 (2004) 334 F.3d 1096.)
Rules on mandamus and similar orders vary by jurisdiction. In the federal courts, these orders most frequently appear when a party to a suit wants to appeal a judge's decision but is blocked by rules against interlocutory appeals. Instead of appealing directly, the party simply sues the judge, seeking a mandamus compelling the judge to correct his earlier mistake. Generally, this type of indirect appeal is only available if the party has no alternative means of seeking review.
See Civil Procedure
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
(man-dame-us) Latin for "we command." A writ of mandamus is a court order that requires another court, government official, public body, corporation, or individual to perform a certain act. For example, after a hearing, a court might issue a writ of mandamus forcing a public school to admit certain students on the grounds that the school illegally discriminated against them when it denied them admission. A writ of mandamus is the opposite of an order to cease and desist, or stop doing something (an injunction). Also called a "writ of mandate."
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:19 pm