The Texas Supreme Court has long held that mandamus relief in that court is an “extraordinary remedy, not issued as a matter of right, but at the discretion of the court.”1 Additionally, the supreme court has stated that while mandamus “can correct clear errors in exceptional cases and afford appropriate guidance to the law without the disruption and burden of interlocutory appeal,” appellate courts must be mindful that “the benefits of mandamus review are easily lost by overuse.”2 Consistent with those statements, during the Survey period of January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2015, the supreme court granted mandamus relief only in limited circumstances. This article surveys the twenty-four published Texas Supreme Court mandamus opinions delivered during that time period, with particular focus on the twenty-one opinions in that group that involved the availability of mandamus relief to correct a clear abuse of discretion by a lower court when there is no adequate remedy by appeal. The purpose of this article is to identify and describe the approach and methods of analysis employed by the supreme court in recent mandamus opinions.
In Part II of this article, we briefly describe the fundamentals of the jurisdictional bases and standards of proof for mandamus. Part III provides a statistical analysis of mandamus cases in the Texas Supreme Court during the past two fiscal years, 2014 and 2015. In Part IV, we categorize and summarize each of the twenty-one mandamus opinions issued by the supreme court during the survey period in which a party alleged a clear abuse of discretion by a lower court and no adequate remedy by appeal. Those summaries offer an examination and comparison of how mandamus review is addressed in each particular category. Part V focuses on the supreme court’s varying approaches to addressing the adequacy of an appellate remedy in those twenty-one cases. Our analysis, presented in a chart format, shows that while it is not unusual for the supreme court to provide only a conclusory statement, or no mention at all, about the element of adequacy of an appellate remedy, the outcomes appear consistent with prior cases involving analogous fact situations. In Part VI, we describe the supreme court’s mandamus decisions during the survey period that fall outside the parameters of Part V. Finally, Part VII concludes this article with observations based on the foregoing parts.
Douglas S. Lang, et al., Survey of Recent Mandamus Decisions of the Texas Supreme Court, 2 SMU Ann. Tex. Surv. 261 (2016)