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MANDAMUS

Lat.: we command. An extraordinary writ, issued from a court to an official, compelling performance of an act that the law recognizes as an absolute duty, as distinct from acts that may be at the official's discretion. EXAMPLE: A state legislature passes a law that provides that, upon request, a person has the right to see any information the government has on file for that person. Kathy files such a request with the State's Attorney General and is refused access to her information. Unless the refusing party can show some compelling need for secrecy, a court will issue a writ of mandamus to the holder of the records, directing the release of the information.

see ministerial act
Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; © 2016

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