filing-a-writ-of-mandamusA writ of mandamus is a remedy that can be used to compel a lower court to perform an act that is ministerial in nature and that the court has a clear duty to do under law. When filing a petition for writ of mandamus, you must show that you have no other remedy available. 

A writ of mandamus is different from an appeal. It asks the higher court to order the lower court to rule on some issue, but does not tell the judge how to rule. In an appeal, you would be asking the higher court to rule that the trial court made an error at the trial, such as improperly admitting evidence or giving incorrect jury instructions.

When Can a Writ of Mandamus Be Filed?

There is no time limit for filing a writ of mandamus. However, a petition for a writ of mandamus could be dismissed if you unreasonably delay in filing it. 

When filing a petition for a writ of mandamus, you must comply with the requirements of Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.100. You must show all of the following:

  • That you have a clear right to relief
  • That there is an undisputed duty on the lower court
  • That there is no adequate remedy at law
  • That you asked the lower court act first

You could file a petition for a writ of mandamus in these situations:

  • To compel the lower court to rule on a motion, such as a post-conviction motion, that was filed a long time ago and no action was taken
  • To compel a lower court to decide a case that was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction in error
  • To compel the release of records after a public records request was made
  • To compel a court-appointed lawyer or public defender to provide information to you
  • To compel the Department of Corrections to award you credit for time served

Limitations on a Writ of Mandamus

A writ of mandamus can only be filed in limited circumstances. It cannot be used to:

  • Seek review by an appellate court of an erroneous lower court decision
  • Order the lower court to perform a discretionary act
  • Control how a lower court acts
  • Circumvent the restrictions in the Florida constitution on when a writ of mandamus can be used

Do you have questions on whether you should file a writ of mandamus? Call our Fort Lauderdale office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced post-conviction relief lawyers to discuss your conviction and how we can help. We can also explain how our payment plan for our attorney fees works. 


Robert Malove
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South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney