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Appeal - Extraordinary Writs

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Either the defense or the prosecution may seek an extraordinary writ (e.g., mandamus or prohibition) from an appellate court to review decisions not otherwise appealable. Traditionally, such writs were available only in narrow circumstances—where, for example, the lower court failed to perform a ministerial duty or lacked jurisdiction. During the latter part of the twentieth century, many courts have relaxed the standards governing such writs (e.g., to comprehend a gross abuse of discretion or a serious legal error of general significance). Nonetheless, many jurisdictions express greater reluctance to issue such writs in criminal than in civil matters (e.g., Will v. United States, 389 U.S. 90 (1967)).

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