CACI Writ of Mandamus Process

If you have already had a CACI grievance hearing and lost, you can appeal your loss to the court by filing a Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandamus.

If you feel you were wrongfully denied a CACI grievance hearing, you can appeal the denial of your hearing by filing a Petition for Writ of Mandamus, also known as a traditional writ of mandamus.

When it comes to CACI writs, both the administrative writ and the traditional writ follow very similar procedural paths through the court, so we’ll just treat them the same in this article and refer to both of them as a writ.

Filing a CACI Writ Petition

Once you’ve decided to file a writ, you want to start preparing for it by gathering all relevant documents.

There is no court form for the writ petition. We have to write the writ petition ourselves on “pleading paper.” The petition will include a summary of the factual and legal arguments.

While your CACI case was or would be confidential, any time you file a writ petition in court, the court case will not be confidential. This is because we have to file the writ petition in civil court, not juvenile court.

Serving the CACI Writ Petition

Once the Petition for Writ of Mandamus is filed, we have to serve it on the other party (i.e., the county). We serve the county by hand-delivering the filed documents on the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors of the county. We will use a process server to do that, which will cost $100 or so. After serving the county, we will then have to file a Proof of Service with the court. The Proof of Service is a document proving that the county was served with the petition.

Keeping Your Identity Confidential

In order to maintain the privacy of yourself and any minors involved, we will file the writ petition using your initials only. After doing so, we will then file a motion with the court asking the court to allow us to proceed using only your initials and asking the judge to order both parties (i.e., you and the county) not to disclose your identity.

So far, we’ve never had a county agency or county counsel disagree with our position that your identity should remain confidential. They always agree.

Even if though the county may agree to keep your identity confidential, we have seen a couple times when the judge did not agree. What that means is we have seen a couple times when the judge did not allow us to use a client’s initials only, and made us use the client’s first and last name. If that happens to you and your name is very common, such as John Smith, then revealing your name may not necessarily clue the public in to who you are. If your name is very uncommon, on the other hand, then this may be a concern for you.

Thankfully, the vast majority of the time, judges agree with us and the county that your identity should remain confidential, and they allow us to proceed using only your initials.

The County Files an Answer or Demurrer

After receiving a copy of the petition, the county will respond either by filing a Response (also called an Answer) or a Demurrer.

The Response or Answer will typically deny all or some of the allegations we presented in the petition. This is the county’s way of saying they are not going to just lie down and agree to the judge giving you what you want; they want to have their voice heard by the judge too.

In administrative mandamus proceedings, the county will typically file a Response or Answer, but will not file a Demurrer.

In traditional mandamus proceedings, the county may file either the Response/Answer or the Demurrer. The difference is that the Response/Answer is the county’s way of saying they want to argue over the issues presented in the petition…but the Demurrer is the county’s way of saying they don’t think you have any case at all and they want the judge to dismiss your petition right out of the gate.

For the most part, whether the county files a Response/Answer or a Demurrer, the case largely proceeds in a similar fashion. The distinction is that the role of the party filing the briefs switches (see below).

Establishing the Record

To decide the case, the judge will need to see the underlying records.

If your writ petition is filed after a grievance hearing, the underlying records will consist of the “administrative record,” which is essentially every document involved in your grievance hearing plus a transcript of the audio-recorded hearing.

If your writ petition is filed to request a grievance hearing, the underlying records may consist of correspondence sent between you and the county or any related court case.

In order to allow the judge to see these records, we will have to “lodge” them with the court. Some courts have us file the records “under seal,” but most courts have us “lodge” the records. Either way, the point of lodging the records or filing them under seal is to make sure that the general public does not have access to them, so they will remain confidential.

Often, the process of establishing the record is what takes the longest in a writ proceeding. It can sometimes take several months just to get the records that we want to give to the court.

Setting a Briefing Schedule

Once the court has the underlying records, the next step is to establish a briefing schedule. A “brief” is the document we write where we present the facts and our legal arguments. There will be three briefs filed in any case.

The point of the briefing schedule is to let everyone know the dates by which they have to have their briefs filed with the court. Each party should have enough time to write their best brief.

We file the first brief, called an Opening Brief. The deadline for the Opening Brief may be at least 30 days after the court receives the underlying record.

After the Opening Brief is filed, the county typically has 30 days or so by which they have to file a Responsive Brief.

Then, we usually have a couple weeks to file a Reply Brief.

Those time frames vary—they could be shorter or longer.

Once the Reply Brief is filed, the next step is Oral Argument. It’s pretty common to set Oral Argument 3-4 weeks after the Reply Brief was filed, in order to give the judge enough time to consider the briefs before making a Tentative decision.

Interim Court Dates

Very often, there will be interim court hearings, sometimes called Case Management Conferences or Pretrial Conferences. The purpose for these court appearances is to just give us a chance to check with the judge and let the judge know what the status of the case is.

The judge wants to make sure both parties are actively working on have the case proceed to final decision. The judge doesn’t want us just sitting on our thumbs doing nothing. So these interim court hearings allow us to make sure something is happening on your case.

Oral Argument

Once the judge has had the chance to review all the underlying records and the parties’ briefs, many judges will prepare a “Tentative Ruling,” which is often posted on the court’s website. Often, the Tentative Ruling is posted the afternoon prior to the date scheduled for Oral Argument.

The Tentative Ruling will tell us what the judge’s likely ruling will be as well as the reasons for the judge’s ruling. This is helpful to us because it lets us know what factual and legal issues to focus on during the Oral Argument.

Oral Argument usually does not last terribly long. It can be anywhere from just a couple minutes to perhaps 45 minutes. Most commonly, if the parties have done a good job briefing the issues, the judge will conclude Oral Argument by adopting the Tentative Ruling. Every once in a while, we’ve seen a judge making a ruling different than the Tentative, but as a general rule you shouldn’t expect it to happen.

Final Order and Judgment Once the judge makes the final order and judgment, we have to put the decision in writing, by filing a document called a Judgment, which the judge has to sign. Once signed and filed, the Judgment signifies the conclusion of the writ proceeding, and your case is now over. It’s not uncommon for a CACI writ petition to take 6-15 months before reaching Judgment. The Difference Between a Traditional Writ of Mandamus and Administrative Writ of Mandamus The biggest difference between the two writs is that for administrative writs, there is a very strict 90 day deadline to file. You must file the administrative writ within 90 days of the county’s issuance of its final decision after your CACI grievance hearing. For the traditional writ, on the other hand, there is no precise deadline by which you have to file. The general rule, instead, is that you should file it as soon as possible, but preferably within 90 days.
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