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Writ of Administrative Mandate


Disclaimer: This guide is intended as general information only and is based on the information found in the resources cited throughout this guide.  It is important to read the cited sections to determine if this process is right for you, and to determine the proper timelines, documents and other factors to consider in your case. Your case may have factors requiring different procedures or forms. If you need further assistance, consult a lawyer.

A Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate is a request that the Superior Court review and reverse the final decision or order of an administrative agency. These petitions are brought under California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §1094.5.

A Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate is not a new trial on your matter. Generally, any argument, defense, theory, or evidence not presented at the administrative hearing is considered waived, and cannot be presented to the trial court during the Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate. In this type of legal action, the court reviews the administrative proceedings to ensure that the agency proceeded in accordance with the law, that you received a fair trial, and that the agency's decision is supported by the evidence and findings.

PRIOR TO FILING YOUR PETITION FOR WRIT OF ADMINISTRATIVE MANDATE

There are several steps you should take before filing your petition, to determine if a Writ of Administrative Mandate is available and appropriate for your situation.

1. Determine if there is still time to petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate. Different statutes of limitations apply to different agencies and types of decisions. These time limits are usually very short - in some cases as little as 15 days.  

  • Consult the California Codes to determine the appropriate limitation period for your case. Two common limitations are Government Code § 11523, which governs decisions that are subject to the Administrative Procedure Act, and  CCP § 1094.6, which governs decisions of certain local agencies.  
  • There are many other statutes that govern the decisions of specific agencies or types of agencies. For a list of common statutes of limitations, see:
    • California Administrative Mandamus Vol. 1, Ch 9. KFC 782 .C34
      Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.
    • California Forms of Pleading and Practice Vol. 41A, Ch. 474A. KFC 1010 .A65 C3
      Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.
    • Handling Administrative Mandamus: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 782 .A23
  • Administrative mandate is an equitable proceeding in which laches may be used as a defense. Laches is the legal principle that a legal right or claim will not be enforced if the party allows an unreasonable delay in asserting the right, and that the delay has caused injury or prejudice to the adverse party.  Even if you file your petition within the time allowed by statute, it may be dismissed if the court finds that you waited an unreasonable length of time before filing.

2.    Determine if a Writ of Administrative Mandate is an available remedy in your situation.  A Writ of Administrative Mandate is only available if all these conditions are true in your case:

  • The administrative action was adjudicatory in nature. This means the agency's decision was one that applied an existing rule or law to your situation. Examples of adjudicatory actions include:
    • Denying or revoking licenses or permits
    • Denying or revoking government benefits 
    • Terminating non-probationary government employment
    • Imposing penalties under a regulatory scheme
    • Granting or denying land use permits

If the decision was legislative in nature, meaning that a new rule is created by the decision, then a Writ of Administrative Mandate is not the appropriate course of action. You will need to have this decision reviewed using a traditional or ordinary writ of mandate.

  • A hearing was required by law. A Writ of Administrative Mandate is only available for cases in which California law requires an administrative hearing at which evidence must be heard, and during which the determination of facts is vested in the decision-makers. A "hearing" need not be a formal trial-type setting; proceedings based solely on documentary evidence may satisfy the hearing requirements. Not all agencies are required to conduct a hearing or take evidence before making a decision. If your hearing was not mandatory by law, then you may not be eligible for a Writ of Administrative Mandate. 

  • You have a beneficial interest in the outcome. You may have a beneficial interest if:
    • You participated in an administrative hearing as a party, and your participation was required or permitted under statute. Participating solely as a witness does not give you a beneficial interest to challenge the administrative decision.
    • A public right is involved in the administrative decision, and the purpose of your Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate is to enforce a public duty.
    • The administrative decision or order adversely affects you, even though you are not the subject of the order, and you were not given notice of the agency proceeding (i.e., a land use permit for adjoining land, but adjoining landowner was not given notice of the proceeding).
    • You are a taxpayer and are bringing the Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate to obtain a judgment restraining the illegal expenditure, waste or injury to public funds or property.

There are other ways in which you may gain a beneficial interest in an administrative proceeding. These are described in:

    • California Administrative Mandamus Vol. 1, Ch 7. KFC 782 .C34
      Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.
    • California Forms of Pleading and Practice Vol. 41A, Ch. 474. KFC 1010 .A65 C3
      Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.
    •  Handling Administrative Mandamus: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 782 .A23
  • You have exhausted all administrative remedies.  You must try to resolve your case within the administrative agency's process before turning to the court for relief. The agency must have the opportunity to consider all evidence and arguments before the court can review your case. The court can only review an agency's final decision. To fully exhaust your administrative remedies:
    • Present all arguments, defenses, theories, and evidence at the administrative hearing. Any of these not presented at the administrative hearing are considered waived, and cannot be presented to the trial court during the Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate.
    • Determine if a petition for reconsideration or an interagency appeal is available in your situation. If an appeals process is available through the administrative agency, you must appeal the decision fully through the agency before you can ask the court to review the decision. The court can only review an agency's final decision. 

3.    Determine if the agency committed a prejudicial error. There are very specific grounds on which the court will review the administrative decision.  If your case does not meet any of the grounds set forth in CCP § 1094.5 (b) – (c), then the court cannot review the administrative decision. These grounds include:

  • The agency proceeded without jurisdiction.
  • The agency proceeded in excess of its jurisdiction.
  • The agency failed to grant a hearing.
  • The hearing did not meet the requirements for a fair trial.
  • The agency abused its discretion in a prejudicial manner.
  • The agency failed to proceed as required by law.
  • The agency's findings fail to support its decision.
  • The evidence does not support the agency's findings.

These grounds are discussed in-depth in:

  • California Administrative Mandamus Vol. 1, Ch 6. KFC 782 .C34
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.
  • California Forms of Pleading and Practice Vol. 41A, Ch. 474B. KFC 1010 .A65 C3
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.
  • Handling Administrative Mandamus: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 782 .A23

FILING YOUR PETITION FOR WRIT OF ADMINISTRATIVE MANDATE IN SACRAMENTO COUNTY

If you meet all the requirements listed above, you may petition the court for a Writ of Administrative Mandate.  Sacramento County has very specific procedures for filing petitions for prerogative writs such as Writs of Administrative Mandate. The court has prepared a guide detailing these procedures, "Guide to the Procedures for Prosecuting Petitions for Prerogative Writs." This guide is available online at http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/civil/docs/writ-procedural-guide.pdf.  In Sacramento County, prerogative writs are assigned to departments at random. Each department has its own procedures and protocols for hearing writs. Be sure to check the protocol used in the department to which your writ petition is assigned. All protocols are available online at http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/civil/writ-departments.aspx Below is a general outline of the steps for obtaining a Writ of Administrative Mandate. The order and timing of these steps may vary, depending on how you choose to handle your case.  In some cases, some of these steps may be performed simultaneously. 

1.    Request preparation of the record of your administrative hearing. To ensure that you are able to meet all deadlines, it is advisable to request the record as soon as you determine that you will be seeking a Writ of Administrative Mandate. In some types of cases, there are statutes of limitations on the timing of such requests. In some instances, this request must be made within as little as 10 days after the administrative hearing. Many agencies have up to 120 days to provide you with the record, so it is important that you make your request early, to ensure that you receive the record in time to proceed with your case.  You will need to lodge the record with the court at least 25 days before your hearing. Each agency has its own requirements for these types of requests. Contact the agency directly for information about special procedures, requirements, and the costs to prepare the record. If the agency does not have specific requirements, you may simply write a letter to the administrative agency, requesting the preparation of the record and specifying the parties involved, the dates of the hearing, the contents of the record, and a statement that you will pay the costs associated with preparation of the record. For more information about preparing the administrative record, see:

  • California Administrative Mandamus Vol. 1, Ch 4. KFC 782 .C34
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.
  • California Forms of Pleading and Practice Vol. 41A, Ch. 474C. KFC 1010 .A65 C3
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.
  • Handling Administrative Mandamus: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 782 .A23
2.    Prepare and file your Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate. If you wish to ask for a temporary stay or proceed by alternative writ, you may file these applications now, or wait until later. The timing of these additional requests depends on how you wish to proceed with your case, and which department is hearing your petition. See steps 4 and 5 for more information. Your petition must include very specific information. These resources include sample Petitions for Writs of Administrative Mandate:
  • California Administrative Mandamus Vol. 1, Ch 10. KFC 782 .C34
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.
  • California Forms of Pleading and Practice Vol. 41A, Ch. 474C. KFC 1010 .A65 C3
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.
  • Handling Administrative Mandamus: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 782 .A23

3.    Serve your petition on all respondents and real parties in interest. If you filed documents for temporary stay or alternative writ, you may serve those documents at this time.  See steps 4 and 5 below for more information.

4.    Apply for a temporary stay, if the administrative agency's order or decision will adversely affect you before a court can hear your Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate. A stay may be obtained by an ex parte hearing.  A list of required documents and the procedure for scheduling an ex parte hearing date are available in the "Guide to Procedures for Prosecuting Petitions for Prerogative Writs," online at http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/civil/docs/writ-procedural-guide.pdf. The timing for filing and service of ex parte matters varies between departments in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Consult the protocols for the department in which your writ petition will be heard to determine the requirements for your ex parte hearing on the temporary stay (http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/civil/writ-departments.aspx).  For more information on applying for a temporary stay of an administrative decision, see:

  • California Administrative Mandamus Vol. 2, Ch 11. KFC 782 .C34
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.
  • California Forms of Pleading and Practice Vol. 41A, Ch. 474C. KFC 1010 .A65 C3
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.
  • Handling Administrative Mandamus: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 782 .A23
5.    Bring your petition to a hearing on the merits. There are different ways to do this, depending on how you want to handle your case. Regardless of the method, be sure the date allows the parties time to file all briefs in accordance with the briefing schedule established in Local Rule 2.26.   If you had an ex parte hearing for a temporary stay, the court likely set a hearing date for your writ petition during that ex parte proceeding. If you have not received a hearing date, you may schedule one with the department hearing your writ petition. This date must allow the parties to file briefs in accordance with the schedule established in Local Rule 2.26.
  • Noticed hearing procedure.  NOTE:  This is the preferred method in Sacramento County. With this procedure, you will schedule a hearing date and prepare, file and serve a Notice of Hearing. This gives the other party notice to appear at the hearing on your Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate.
  •  Alternative writ procedure
    An alternative writ is an order to show cause that calendars a hearing on the merits for the Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate. The alternative writ is a court order that instructs the administrative agency to set aside its decision, or show cause at a hearing why the decision should stand. With this procedure, you will prepare an ex parte application for the alternative writ, along with a number of supporting documents, including:
    • your original petition,
    • points and authorities,
    • a proposed order directing the issuance of the alternative writ,
    • a proposed alternative writ , and
    • declaration regarding notice.
Timing of service of these papers varies by department. Some departments require as much as five days' notice to the parties before hearing an ex parte request for an alternative writ.  Consult the department protocols online at http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/civil/writ-departments.aspx. If the court grants your application for an alternative writ, a hearing will be scheduled for your Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate. The court may refuse to rule on your alternative writ, but still calendar a hearing for your Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate. Keep in mind that the alternative writ does not, in itself, grant you a stay or any other relief from the administrative agency's decision, or decide the legal merits of your case. The alternative writ merely sets a hearing for your Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate. 

For more information on these methods and how to select the proper method for your case, see:

  • California Administrative Mandamus Vol. 1, Ch 10-11. KFC 782 .C34
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.
  • California Forms of Pleading and Practice Vol. 41A, Ch. 474C. KFC 1010 .A65 C3
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.
  • Handling Administrative Mandamus: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 782 .A23

6.    Give notice of the hearing to the other parties. The method of notice will depend on the manner in which your case is brought to hearing. See the "Guide to Procedures for Prosecuting Petitions for Prerogative Writs," http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/civil/docs/writ-procedural-guide.pdf for information on serving papers for each method of notice.

7.    Conduct discovery, if necessary in your case. In nearly all cases, the review granted with a Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate is limited to the contents of the administrative record, and supporting documentation. In very rare instances, new evidence can be introduced in the Writ of Administrative Mandate proceeding. The instances in which evidence outside the administrative record can be admitted are described in the CCP § 1094.5(3). For more information on discovery in this type of proceeding, see:

  • California Administrative Mandamus Vol. 1, Ch 13. KFC 782 .C34
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.
  • California Forms of Pleading and Practice Vol. 41A, Ch. 474C. KFC 1010 .A65 C3
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

8.    Consult the Tentative Rulings, if your department uses this system. Some departments will issue a tentative ruling on your petition the day before your scheduled hearing.  Consult the department protocols online at http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/civil/writ-departments.aspx, to determine if your department issues tentative rulings. Tentative rulings are available online at https://services.saccourt.ca.gov/publicdms/ by 2:00 p.m. the court day before the scheduled hearing. This tentative ruling will become the final ruling on your petition, unless either party asks for the hearing to be held. If you would like to proceed with the hearing, you must notify the other party and the department clerk of your intention to appear at the hearing by 4:00 p.m. on the court day before your scheduled hearing. If no request for a hearing is made, the court will take the hearing off the calendar, and the tentative ruling will become the final ruling of the court.

9.    Prepare a Judgment and Peremptory Writ, if the judge grants your writ petition. For more information and samples, see:

  • California Administrative Mandamus Vol. 1, Ch 14-15. KFC 782 .C34
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.
  • California Forms of Pleading and PracticeVol. 41A, Ch. 474C. KFC 1010 .A65 C3
    Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.
updated 2/14 mpj