JAIDEEP S. CHAWLA
Civil, Action in nature of mandamus. Supreme Judicial Court,
Superintendence of inferior courts.
Jaideep S. Chawla, pro se.
Jeffrey T. Walker, Assistant Attorney General (Amy Crafts,
Assistant Attorney General, also present) for the defendant.
S. Chawla appeals from a judgment of a single justice of this
court denying his complaint for relief in the nature of
mandamus or, in the alternative, for relief pursuant to G. L.
c. 211, § 3. We affirm.
to the False Claims Act, Chawla commenced a qui tam action in
the Superior Court against two individuals being prosecuted
by the Federal government for narcotics
offenses. In general, Chawla sought recovery of
taxes due under the controlled substances tax, G. L. c. 64K,
on the illegal narcotics allegedly possessed by certain
individuals as part of their criminal enterprise. After
investigation, the Attorney General elected not to intervene
in the qui tam action, see G. L. c. 12, § 5C
(3), and moved to dismiss it. See G. L. c. 12,
§ 5D (2). Chawla appealed from the allowance of the
motion, and a panel of the Appeals Court affirmed the
judgment dismissing the case. See Chawla v.
Gonzalez, 90 Mass.App.Ct. 1102 (2016). Chawla next filed
a petition for rehearing in the Appeals Court. See
Mass. R. A. P. 27 (a), as appearing in 396 Mass. 1218 (1986).
One of the original panel members was no longer a member of
that court, and another associate justice (replacement judge)
of the Appeals Court was called in to take part in the
decision. See Mass. R. A. P. 24 (a), 365 Mass. 872
(1974). The petition for rehearing was denied. Chawla's
subsequent motion for recusal of the replacement judge was
denied. Chawla did not file an application for
further appellate review.
thereafter filed a complaint in the county court, which he
amended twice. The second amended complaint seeks relief in
the nature of mandamus, pursuant to G. L. c. 249, § 5,
to compel the replacement judge to demonstrate the basis for
his decision not to recuse himself from participation in the
proceeding, to order the judge's recusal, and to compel
the Appeals Court both to vacate the denial of his petition
for rehearing and to reconsider it. In addition, pursuant to
G. L. c. 211, § 3, Chawla seeks appointment of a special
prosecutor to investigate the Attorney General and an order
vacating the Superior Court's judgment in the qui tam
action. The single justice correctly denied relief.
would be hard to find any principle more fully established in
our practice than the principle that neither mandamus nor
certiorari is to be used as a substitute for ordinary
appellate procedure or used at any time when there is another
adequate remedy." Myrick v. Superior Court
Dep't, 479 Mass. 1012, 1012 (2018), quoting
Rines v. Justices of the Superior Court, 330 Mass.
368, 371 (1953). Chawla could have sought review of the
replacement judge's decision not to recuse himself, and
the alleged effect of that decision on the panel's
ultimate ruling on the petition for rehearing, by filing an
application for further appellate review. See
Abdullah v. Secretary of Pub. Safety, 447 Mass.
1009, 1009 (2006) (relief properly denied under G. L. c. 211,
§ 3, where petitioner could have, but did not, seek
leave to obtain further appellate review). See also
Ewing v. Commonwealth, 451 Mass. 1005, 1006 (2008).
a judge's decision whether to recuse him- or herself from
a particular proceeding is generally, as it was here, within
the judge's discretion. A complaint in the nature of
mandamus is limited to requiring a public official to perform
a "clear cut duty," as opposed to requiring the
exercise of discretion in a particular way. Ardon v.
Committee for Pub. Counsel Servs., 464 Mass. 1001, 1001
(2012), cert. denied, 571 U.S. 872 (2013), quoting
Simmons v. Clerk-Magistrate of the Boston Div. of the
Hous. Court Dep't, 448 Mass. 57, 59-60 (2006).
"[M]andamus will not issue to direct a judicial officer
to make a particular decision or to review, or reverse, a
decision made by a judicial officer on an issue properly
before him or her." Myrick v. Appeals Court,
481 Mass. 1029, 1030 (2019), quoting Montefusco v.
Commonwealth, 452 Mass. 1015, 1015 (2008). In this case,
the single justice properly declined mandamus relief to
compel the recusal of the replacement judge, to require the
Appeals Court to recall its rescript, to vacate the denial of
Chawla's petition for rehearing, or to compel
reconsideration of the petition. None of these things is a
type of action that could be compelled by a complaint for
respect to Chawla's request pursuant to G. L. c. 211,
§ 3, that the single justice appoint a special
prosecutor to investigate the Attorney General, or to order
the Superior Court to vacate its judgment, the single justice
determined that "[t]his is not a matter for the exercise
of the court's extraordinary power under [G. L. c. 211,
§ 3]." We agree. The court's power of general
superintendence is reserved for extraordinary circumstances,
where the petitioner has demonstrated both a substantial
violation of a substantive right and the absence of an
adequate alternative remedy. See Pandey v.
Roulston, 419 Mass. 1010, 1011 (1995). Chawla made no
showing of any substantive right to an investigation of the
Attorney General in these circumstances. See
generally Carroll, petitioner, 453 Mass. 1006 (2009). With
respect to the Superior Court's judgment, he also failed
to demonstrate the absence or inadequacy of remedies
alternative to G. L. c. 211, § 3. Specifically, he could
have filed an appropriate postjudgment motion in the Superior
Court, see Mass. R. Civ. P. 60, 365 Mass. 828
(1974), and appealed from any adverse ruling.
single justice neither erred nor abused his discretion in
denying the complaint.