For those who practice in the courts of the Virgin Islands, there is a weary acceptance that justice will come, but it might not come quickly. Sometimes—either due to the complexity of a case or a court’s congested docket—a motion or petition will linger on a judge’s docket for months or (in extreme cases) even years. In these situations, a litigant has only two choices: Sit back and wait for a ruling or try to get the case moving with a writ of mandamus.
A writ of mandamus is an order from a higher court to a lower court ordering it to properly fulfill its official duties or correct an abuse of discretion. To obtain a writ of mandamus, a petitioner has to establish both that (i) he and she doesn’t have any other means to attain the desired relief; and (ii) the right to the writ is clear and indisputable. However, even if these requirements are met, the higher court must use its discretion and be satisfied that the writ is appropriate in the situation at hand.