EMORY G. SNELL, JR.
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER.
Civil, Action in nature of mandamus. Office of Chief Medical
Examiner. Public Records.
G. Snell, Jr., pro se.
R. Marks, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendant.
G. Snell, Jr., appeals from a judgment of the county court
denying his complaint for relief in the nature of mandamus.
Snell was convicted of murder in the first degree, based in
part on the testimony of a medical examiner who performed an
autopsy on the body of the victim, Snell's wife.
Commonwealth v. Snell, 428 Mass.
766, 769, cert, denied, 527 U.S. 1010 (1999). In 2012,
pursuant to the public records law, G. L. c. 66, § 10
(a.), Snell requested from the Office of the Chief Medical
Examiner (OCME) twenty-seven categories of documents
concerning that medical examiner. The OCME denied the request,
asserting that the information requested, to the extent that
it existed, was exempt from disclosure under G. L. c. 4,
§ 7, Twenty-sixth (c0, because it was in the medical
examiner's personnel file. Snell appealed to the
supervisor of records (supervisor). At the request of the
public records division, the OCME provided a specific
response to each of the twenty-seven categories, claiming as
to most of the categories either that the documents were
exempt from disclosure or that the OCME had no responsive
documents. By letter dated March 8, 2013, the supervisor,
noting that a document is not exempt from disclosure merely
because it is contained in a personnel file, instructed the
OCME to review its records; redact them where necessary;
provide them to Snell; and, to the extent that the OCME
claimed the records were exempt from disclosure, provide a
comprehensive response to support the exemption claim. When
the OCME did not do so in a timely manner, Snell filed his
complaint, which sought an order directing the OCME to comply
with the supervisor's March 8, 2013, letter.
single justice properly denied relief. "When a single
justice denies relief in the nature of mandamus, '[her]
determination will rarely be overturned.'"
Watson v. McClerkin, 455 Mass.
1002, 1003 (2009), quoting Mack v.
Clerk of the Appeals Court, 427 Mass. 1011, 1012
(1998). "A complaint in the nature of mandamus is 'a
call to a government official to perform a clear cut
duty,' and the remedy is limited to requiring action on
the part of the government official." 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). As the single justice stated, Snell made no showing
that the OCME had a clear cut duty to produce any of the
documents he was requesting or that the OCME was refusing to
produce any record that was not exempt from disclosure under
the public records law. Nor is there any indication in the
record that the OCME was refusing to comply with the
supervisor's instructions. In these circumstances, Snell
has not shown that he was entitled to relief in the nature of
"[i]t 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). A person
requesting public records may commence a civil action in the
Superior Court to enforce the public records law. G. L. c.
66, § 10A (c0 . Snell offers no reason why this would
not have been an adequate remedy in these circumstances. The
single justice neither erred nor abused her considerable
discretion by denying relief.
 It appears that, separately from these
proceedings, Snell has moved for a new trial in his criminal
case and has sought similar postconviction discovery in
connection with that motion. These efforts have met with some
success, as a judge in the Superior Court ordered the OCME to
produce the medical examiner's personnel file, along with
other documents, for in camera review. After oral argument in
this matter, the OCME informed us that it produced the
personnel file and that after in camera review, the judge
found that it contained no documents relevant to Snell's
motion for a new trial. We express no view whether that
ruling was correct, and we need not determine whether these
developments render this appeal moot.
 The OCME has moved to dismiss this
appeal as moot, arguing that, after the single justice's
decision, it supplemented its initial response to Snell's
public records request and that therefore Snell has received
all the relief he requested in his mandamus complaint. We
need not determine whether the OCME's ...