St. Mary's Law Journal


It is important for all Texas lawyers to be knowledgeable about mandamus relief. Unfortunately, there is no bright line rule in terms of mandamus relief. The general rule for when mandamus relief may be granted is when the trial court clearly abused its discretion, and there is not an adequate remedy available from a court of appeals. A clear of abuse of discretion is determined if no other trial court would have come to the same conclusion. In deciding if mandamus relief is proper, appellate courts apply a balancing test. The appellate court considers several factors including: preserving relator’s substantive and procedural rights from impairment or loss, providing guidance for future appeals, and preventing the waste of resources in proceedings likely to be reversed. The appellate court must then conclude that petitioner would be substantially prejudiced if mandamus relief is not granted. The Texas Supreme Court and lower appellate courts, however, are reluctant to grant mandamus relief. Based on a 1998 survey reviewing ten years worth of data, mandamus relief was granted 10.3% of the time. The burden is on the relator to file a writ of mandamus and demonstrate there was only one result the trial court could have reasonably reached. The relator should also argue that a trial court’s denial of a remedy would have an indiscriminate impact on their client. Examples of situations of indiscriminate impact include: the issuance or denial of a temporary restraining order, the issuance of a motion to sever a trial, and the issuance of discovery sanctions. The relator must also fully comply with the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure (TRAP). TRAP 52 requires a relator to file all necessary documents, including a separate certification, in a timely manner. Failure to comply with TRAP results in an immediate denial of mandamus relief.


St. Mary's University School of Law