Friday, December 6, 2013

Kerr v. United States District Court for the Northern District of California case brief

Kerr v. United States District Court for the Northern District of California case brief summary
426 U.S. 394 (1976)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Petitioners, defendants in a class action, sought issuance of writs of mandamus to compel respondent United States District Court for the Northern District of California to vacate two discovery orders. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused to issue the writs. Defendants petitioned for certiorari.

CASE FACTS
Petitioners, defendants in a class action, sought issuance of writs of mandamus to compel respondent United States District Court for the Northern District of California to vacate two discovery orders. The court of appeals refused to issue the writs but directed that the petitioners would have relief in the form of the ability to apply for and receive in camera inspections of documents requested by the class plaintiffs in the underlying prisoners' rights action.

DISCUSSION

  • The Court affirmed the denial of mandamus on the basis that mandamus was an extraordinary writ that was only available in limited situations. 
  • The Court determined that mandamus was available where the party seeking issuance of the writ had no other adequate means to attain the relief he desired and had satisfied the burden of showing that his right to issuance of the writ was clear and indisputable. 
  • The Court determined that the procedure developed by the court of appeals to resolve the discovery issue was adequate for the nature of the problem, and that the drastic remedy of mandamus was unnecessary.
CONCLUSION
The Court affirmed the decision that denied mandamus.


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