Legal Memorandum: Issuing mandamus to enforce nondiscretionary official duties of a public officer

Issue: Under Illinois law, when should the remedy of mandamus be sought?

Area of Law: Litigation Practice & Procedure, Litigation Practice and Procedure
Keywords: ; Mandamus; Extraordinary Remedy; Official; Discretion
Jurisdiction: Illinois
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 01/01/2016

Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy to enforce the performance by a public officer of nondiscretionary official duties. Noyola v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 179 Ill.2d 121, 133 (1997). "Where public officials have failed to comply with mandatory statutory requirements, the purpose of mandamus is to compel public officials to do so." Clarke v. Community Unit School District 303, 2014 IL App (2d) 131016, ¶ 25. Mandamus will issue only where the plaintiff has fulfilled his or her burden to set forth every material fact needed to demonstrate that (1) the plaintiff has a clear right to the relief requested, (2) there is a clear duty on the part of the defendant to act, and (3) clear authority exists in the defendant to comply with an order granting mandamus relief. Edens v. Godinez, 2013 IL App (4th) 120297, ¶ 16.

Mandamus relief is an extraordinary remedy to direct a public official or body to perform a ministerial duty that does not involve the exercise of judgment or discretion. Stevens v. Village of Oak Brook, 2013 IL App (2d) 120456, ¶ 39. While mandamus is an appropriate remedy to compel compliance with mandatory legal standards, relief will not be granted when the act in question involves the exercise of discretion. People ex rel. Birkett v. Konetski, 233 Ill.2d 185, 193 (2009).

What constitutes and how to enforce a "necessary and reasonable" ordinance or rule to improve and maintain a waterway are inherently discretionary. The court in Tyska […]

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