peremptory writ of mandate (or mandamus)

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A peremptory writ of mandate, or mandamus, is a judicial writ (i.e. order) to any governmental body, government official, or lower court requiring that the they perform an act or cease to act where the court finds that an official law, duty or judgment requires them to do so.  That is, it is a type of mandamus writ, since the court is compelling another governmental body to do an act. However, it differs from an alternative writ of mandate in that a lower court or government body has already been established that the act that the court compels in the peremptory writ of mandate must be completed. The defendant has no further opportunities to contend their subjection to the writ; a peremptory writ of mandate is absolute and unqualified. For example, in Sholtz v. U.S., the Circuit Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit affirmed the issuance of a peremptory writ of mandate which required Florida state officials for the treasury department to pay a judgment, their liability therefor a lower court had established. As another example, the California Superior Court in California Building Industry Assoc’n v. State Water Resource Control Bd. issued a peremptory writ of mandate to compel the State Water Resource Control Board to halt the implementation of certain environmental standards where the invalidity of the standards has already been established.

However, courts generally recognize the coercive nature of peremptory writs of mandate, and usually require that the defendant have notice of the petition of the writ and, if the case is of first instance, an opportunity to present their arguments. For example, California Code of Civil Procedure § 1088 requires that “[w]hen the application to the court is made without notice to the adverse party, and the writ is allowed, the alternative must be first issued; but if the application is upon due notice and the writ is allowed, the peremptory may be issued in the first instance.” Additionally, the California Court of Appeal in Campbell v. Superior Court illustrates an instance where defendants to a peremptory writ of mandate had the opportunity to present new evidence at a hearing to adjudge whether the writ should be issued.

[Last updated in December of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]