How Do You Get a Writ of Mandamus?


Quick Answer

You must be a party to a lawsuit or a legal action in order to petition a judicial entity for a writ of mandamus, according to Cornell University Law School. A writ of mandamus is a court order that forces a government official, corporation or governmental body to act.

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Full Answer

A judge may issue a writ of madamus after a hearing to ascertain the validity of such a petition, as Law.com explains. For example, an individual or party sues a city government for refusing to place a proposition on the ballot despite backers of the proposition obtaining enough qualified signatures to force an election. The city claims the proposal is unconstitutional, even though city ordinances require the proposition appear on a ballot for voters to decide. Backers of the initiative petition sue the city and request a judge issue a writ of mandamus that forces the city to put the proposition up for election.

Rules for requesting a writ of mandamus vary by jurisdiction, notes Cornell University. Writs of mandamus often occur in U.S. federal courts when a party cannot file an appeal based on other rules of the court, so the party sues the federal judge to try to force him to correct his earlier error that negated chances for an appeal. A writ of mandamus is the opposite of a cease and desist order.

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