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MANDAMUS RELIEF AGAINST PUBLIC OFFICIAL

Generally, a party is entitled to mandamus relief against a public official when there is (1) a legal duty to perform
a nondiscretionary act, (2) a demand for performance of that act, and (3) a refusal to perform.  Anderson v. City
of Seven Points, 806 S.W.2d 791, 793 (Tex. 1991); Sheppard v. Thomas, 101 S.W.3d 577, 581 (Tex. App.-
Houston [1st Dist.] 2003, pet. denied).  An act is nondiscretionary, or ministerial, when the law clearly spells out
the duty to be performed by the official with sufficient certainty that nothing is left to the exercise of discretion.  
Anderson, 806 S.W.2d at 793; Sheppard, 101 S.W.3d at 581; Harris County v. Walsweer, 930 S.W.2d 659, 667-
68 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1996, writ denied).  The Texas Supreme Court has recognized an exception,
however, which authorizes mandamus relief in cases involving a discretionary act: “a writ of mandamus may issue
in a proper case to correct a clear abuse of discretion by a public official."  Anderson, 806 S.W.2d at 793.   

The burden is upon the petitioner to negate by affirmative allegation and prove every fact or condition which
would have authorized the public official to take action sought to be enforced upon him.  Wortham v. Walker, 133
Tex. 255, 128 S.W.2d 1138, 1151 (1939); Rash v. City Council of City of Houston, 557 S.W.2d 324, 326 (Tex.
Civ. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1977, writ ref'd n.r.e.).  Without such proof, there is no basis for finding an abuse of
discretion.  Wortham, 133 Tex. at 279, 128 S.W.2d at 1151.
[Fn: 4]  District courts have jurisdiction to review and issue writs of mandamus against a commissioners court.
Section 24.020 of the Texas Government Code provides that “[t]he district court has appellate jurisdiction and
general supervisory control over the commissioners court . . ."  Tex. Gov't Code § 24.020.  Furthermore, the
Texas Constitution and the Government Code authorize the district court to “grant writs of mandamus . . . and all
other writs necessary to the enforcement of the court's jurisdiction."  Tex. Const. art. V, § 8; Tex. Gov't Code §
24.011; see also Vondy v. Commissioners Court of Uvalde County, 620 S.W.2d 104, 109 (Tex. 1981)
(acknowledging that district courts are vested with original mandamus jurisdiction over county officials and
“general supervisory control over the orders of the commissioners court").   


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