mandamus

A mandamus is an order passed down from a court requiring that an official perform some particular function as an absolute duty.

If a public official tries to do his job in whatever way he sees fit, a court might issue a mandamus, telling him, "This is your duty — do it. Or else." Say you're a dogcatcher and you've been looking the other way while Tootles runs free, digging up flower beds. A court might issue a writ of mandamus ordering you to put Tootles in the pound. It's no longer up to you — it's time to bring Tootles in.

Definitions of mandamus
  1. noun
    an extraordinary writ commanding an official to perform a ministerial act that the law recognizes as an absolute duty and not a matter for the official's discretion; used only when all other judicial remedies fail
    synonyms: writ of mandamus
    see moresee less
    type of:
    judicial writ, writ
    (law) a legal document issued by a court or judicial officer
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