In most court systems, there exist a hierarchy that determines the rank and status of a court. For example, there exists a local court, which exists in a lower rung in the chain of courts. Above this local court is a district court, and superior to the district court is a federal court. Thus, a superior court has the power to issue an order to a lower court in order for a lower court to do something. This type of order is referred to as a writ of mandate.
A court order that is issued by a superior court in order to compel a lower court to act or refrain from acting is a writ of mandate. This writ of mandate can involve action or inaction, but is there to instruct the lower courts as to how to respond to a certain event or instance. A writ of mandate can also be referred to as a petition for a writ of mandamus. In order for the writ of mandate to exist, a person must request it and file such a request with a court of law. The person filing for the request does so because the person or party he or she is filing against not acting or behaving in the manner that he or she is legally obliged to do so. Thus, the party filing for a writ of mandate is asserting his or her legal right, which has been denied by the person or party he or she is filing against.