mandamus - ministerial duty v. discretionary act
Chadwick v. Office of Coroner - Commonwealth Court - August 17, 2006
Mother of deceased sued the county coroner to try to force him to change his conclusion about the cause of the death of plaintiff's brother, which the coroner had held was suicide. The court held that mandamus does not lie to order a public official to exercise his discretion in a particular way. It can generally only be used to compel the offiicail to perform acts which are required or obliged to be performed, and which do not involve an exercise of discretion. The court noted that a "refusal to exercise discretion may be addressed in a mandamus action" but that was fundamentally different from the case where discretion has been exercised and the plaintiff disagrees with the decision, i.e., how it was exercised.