Delgobbo v. Town of Watertown
As explained in the 2012 Appellate Court case of Garcia v. Hartford, in issuing a writ of mandamus "the trial court exercises discretion rooted in the principles of equity" and, here, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that it would be inequitable to issue the writ ordering a zoning enforcement officer to inspect the plaintiffs' driveway when the officer was never asked by the plaintiffs to do so. The plaintiffs commenced a petition for a writ of mandamus averring that the town of Watertown and several of its employees violated town zoning regulations in the reconstruction of the plaintiffs' driveway while widening the road and that the plaintiffs were entitled to have those regulations enforced. The plaintiffs' amended claim for relief requested that the court order the zoning enforcement officer to inspect and determine whether the driveway was in violation of the zoning ordinances. The court held an evidentiary hearing and denied the mandamus request. The plaintiffs appealed. Finding that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the court abused its discretion in denying their request for the writ, the Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The plaintiffs unsuccessfully sought to distinguish the 2010 Connecticut Appellate Court case of Greenfield v. Reynolds. The plaintiffs argued that although the method employed or decisions made by the zoning enforcement officer in performing her duties may be discretionary, it is not discretionary that she perform her job; the duty to perform her job is a ministerial one. However, for that argument to withstand scrutiny, the plaintiffs needed to establish that the zoning enforcement officer had a mandatory duty to inspect the driveway, even absent a prior request from them, to ensure compliance with the zoning regulations and that the trial court abused its discretion in denying their request for a writ of mandamus. They did not meet their burden. The plaintiffs made no argument concerning the court's exercise of discretion in declining to issue a writ of mandamus. Nor did they address the court's holding that it would be inequitable to issue the writ when the zoning enforcement officer was never asked by the plaintiffs to inspect the driveway.