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Writ of Mandamus in Alabama

A writ of mandamus (man DAMM us) is a way to get appellate review of a case when an ordinary appeal would be inadequate. Technically, a writ of mandamus asks the appellate court to order a judge to do something. If the appellate court orders a judge not to do something, it's called a writ of prohibition.

Mandamus is a drastic and extraordinary writ, to be issued only where there is:

  1. A clear legal right in the petitioner to the order sought
  2. An imperative duty upon the respondent to perform, accompanied by a refusal to do so
  3. The lack of another adequate remedy; and
  4. Properly invoked jurisdiction of the court.

Ex parte D.M. White Constr. Co., 806 So. 2d 370 (Ala. 2001).

The right to the writ of mandamus is governed by Rule 21 of the Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure, which lays out all the elements the petition for writ must contain and requires that it be filed within "a reasonable time."

In divorce cases, the most frequent use of applications for writs of mandamus is in situations where the trial court has made a ruling but has not yet made a judgment final (for example, a pendente lite (temporary) order. The parties cannot appeal a non-final judgment, but the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has said that an application for a writ of mandamus may be an appropriate remedy in this kind of situation.

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