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Legal Definition and Related Resources of Mandamus

Meaning of Mandamus

Literally the term means we command . The writ of mandamus is issued ordering a public official to do that which law clearly requires that official to do. If the law directs a public officer to perform an act in regard to which no discretion is permitted to him and which, upon the facts existing, he is bound to perform, then the doing of that act may be compelled by the issue of a writ of mandamus. See Roberts v United States ex rel. Valentine, 176 U.S. 221, 20 S. Ct. 376, 44 L.Ed. 443. But if the doing of the act involves a Discretionary power , or the exercise of judgment on the part of the public official, then a mandamus will not be issued. See Keim v United States, 177 U.S. 290, 20 S.Ct. 574, 44 L.Ed. 774. Also, see United States ex ret. Greathouse v Dern, 289 U.S. 352, 53 S.Ct. 614, 77 L.Ed. 1250.

Mandamus Alternative Definition

In practice. This is a high prerogative writ, usually issuing out of the highest court of general jurisdiction in a state, in the name of the sovereignty, directed to any natural person, corporation, or inferior court of judicature within its jurisdiction, requiring them to do some particular thing therein specified, and which appertains to their ofl5ce or duty. 3 BI Comm. 110; 4 Bac. Abr. 495; Opinion of Marshall, C, J., 1 Cranch (U. S.) 137, 168. It is a proper remedy to compel the performance of a specific act where the act is ministerial in its character (12 Pet. [U. S 1 524; 34 Pa. St. 293; 26 Ga. 665; 7 Iowa, 186, 390) ; but where the act is of a discretionary (6 How. [U. S.] 92; 11 How. [U. S.l 272; 17 How. [U. S.] 284; 12 Cush. [Mass.] 403; 20 Tex. 60; 10 Cal. 376; 5 Har. [Del] 108; 12 Md. 329; 4 Mich. 187; 5 Ohio St. 528) or judicial' nature (14 La. Ann. 60; 7 Cal. 130; 18 B. Mon. [Ky.] 423; 7 El. & Bl. 366) , it will lie only to compel action generally (11 Cal. 42; 30 Ala. [N. S.] 49; 28 Mo. 259) ; and where the necessity of acting is a matter of discretion, it will not lie even to compel action (6 How. [U. S.] 92; 5 Iowa, 380). The writ of mandamus is either alternative or peremptory. The former usually Issued at the commencement of the suit, commanding in the alternative that defendant do the specified act, or show cause why he should. not, and the latter, issued after hearing, commanding the performance of the decree without alternative.

Related Entries of Mandamus in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Mandamus in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Mandamus in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Mandamus in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

For more information about Historical Law definitions, see Historical Definitions in the Encyclopedia of Law. For more information about Historical Law Books and Legal Documents, see Legal Encyclopedia of Historical Books and Documents and Legal Encyclopedia of Books and Documents of the 20th Century.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Mandamus in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary. The Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary entries include explanations of the context of abbreviations or acronyms as well as the direct meaning.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Extraordinary Remedies, Judicial Review, Mandatory, Prerogative Writ, Prohibition, Refusal.

Mandamus Legal Definition

A writ by which a court commands the performance of a particular act.


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This definition of Mandamus Is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

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Cite this entry

Legal Citations Generator
(2013, 04). Mandamus Retrieved 04, 2014, from
"Mandamus" 04 2013. 04 2014 <>
"Mandamus", 04 2013. Web. 04 2014. <>
"Mandamus" 04, 2013. Accesed 04 2014.
Encyclopedic, 'Mandamus' ( 2013) <> accesed 2014 April 23


This entry was last modified: April 22, 2013

Administrative Law in other Legal Encyclopedias

Link Description
Mandamus Administrative Law Category in the World Legal Wiki Encyclopedia
Mandamus Administrative Law Category in the European Legal Wiki Encyclopedia
Mandamus Administrative Law Category in the American Legal Wiki Encyclopedia
Mandamus Administrative Law Category in the Latin American Legal Wiki Encyclopedia
Mandamus Administrative Law Category in the UK Legal Wiki Encyclopedia
Mandamus Administrative Law Category in the Australian Legal Wiki Encyclopedia
Mandamus Administrative Law Category in the Canadian Legal Wiki Encyclopedia
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