Beltranena v. Holder, filed on September 12, 2014
Fleming v. Texas, filed on September 12, 2014
Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. v. Klinger, filed on September 15, 2014
Arthey v. Schlumberger Tech. Corp., filed on September 18, 2014
As we have discussed in our previous blog posts (here & here), the Question Presented is the most important part of your brief because it is the first item that the Justices’ law clerks view. In this blog post I would like to exemplify the qualities of a well-written Question Presented by highlighting the Question Presented from the recently-filed cert petition in 14-280, Montgomery v. Louisiana:
Henry Montgomery has been incarcerated since 1963. Montgomery is serving a mandatory life sentence for a murder he committed just 11 days after he turned seventeen years of age.
In light of Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 83 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), which holds that mandatory sentencing schemes “requiring that all children convicted of homicide receive lifetime incarceration without possibility of parole”…violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, Montgomery filed a state district court motion to correct his illegal sentence. The trial court denied Montgomery’s motion, and on direct writ application, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied Montgomery’s application, citing State v. Tate, 2012-2763 (La. 11/5/13), cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 2663, 189 L.Ed.2d 214 (2014), which held that Miller is not retroactive on collateral review to those incarcerated in Louisiana.
The question thus presented here is whether Miller adopts a new substantive rule that applies retroactively on collateral review to people condemned as juveniles to die in prison?
What makes this question presented special?
At Cockle Legal Briefs, we will review your Question(s) Presented to make sure you are presenting your legal issue to the Court in an acceptable format. No other Supreme Court brief printer offers this service.
Not only can Cockle Legal Briefs help you prepare and file your Briefs in the United States Supreme Court, we can also help you prepare and file Appellate Briefs in the Second Circuit, the Fifth Circuit, the Ninth Circuit, or any of the thirteen Federal Circuit Courts. The filing requirements in the thirteen Federal Circuit Courts are complex, and often confusing. In addition to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, each Circuit Court operates under its own set of local rules—mandatory practice standards that periodically change, and sometimes conflict with the Federal Rules—and, the various Clerks’ offices often adhere to unwritten practices and preferences that are distinctive to each Court. Below is a sampling of the consultation and printing services that we offer for our Circuit Court filers.
A Circuit Court document must be filed in compliance with the Court’s rules as to length, formatting, and composition. Our Circuit Court experts are intimately familiar with each Circuit’s requirements. We can carefully examine your Brief, Motion, Appendix, Addendum, or Record Excerpts for compliance to ensure that your document will be accepted by the Clerk, and filed on time.
After decades of proofreading legal documents, we can confirm one basic human principle—everyone makes mistakes. The drafter must review all of the relevant elements of the case, research the applicable law, develop a coherent theory that relates the facts to the law, reduce the theory to a succinct, persuasive narrative, and finally, prepare a type-written draft. In that process, errors of form, grammar, spelling and consistency are bound to creep in. Our teams of professional proofreaders can comb through your draft, and note any possible problems that you may want to address before you present your completed work to the Court.
When filing a Brief in the Circuit Courts, it is important for the Brief to be prepared to the very highest possible standards of refinement and style. From cover through certificates, we can format your text, proofread the copy, send you an annotated proof for review, and make your corrections. We will then print, bind, file, and serve your document. Your typeset Brief, formatted in our distinctive Cockle Style, will let the Court, counsel, and clients know that your document has been prepared with the same level of care and professionalism as the argument it presents.
If all you really need is to talk with someone—an expert who knows your Circuit’s requirements inside and out—then give us a call. We can schedule a time for you to speak with a consultant who is familiar with the Circuit (usually within an hour or two). We will ask for a reasonable consultation fee, and if you later decide to use one of our other services, we will apply the fee to those costs.
After all of the research, drafting, checking, and re-writing, in most instances your work is still not complete. The document must be printed onto the page, bound with the correct color cover, and delivered to the Court and to counsel. Why not let Cockle Legal Briefs do that for you? We will print your document (single- or double-sided, depending on the rules of that Court), insert tabs when required, prepare the cover in the proper color, bind the cover and pages, and ship the copies by a method and time frame that satisfy the Court’s requirements.
Expert advice and consultation from our knowledgeable Circuit Court Document Analysts can help you avoid pitfalls. Cockle Legal Briefs has been producing top quality legal documents for over 90 years, and our staff of professionals—experienced in the unique practices of each Circuit—can help you present a timely, rule-compliant, and impeccably prepared document. Give us a call to discuss our Circuit Court services. Depending on the options you choose, we can provide a cost estimate over the telephone and schedule a time for your documents to arrive.
“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” – Mark Twain.
From the installation of a frozen-yogurt machine to verified KKK membership, the history of the United States Supreme Court and its Justices is filled with fascinating facts.
Age is Just a Number:
An Exclusive Club:
Meade v. U.S., filed August 18, 2014.
The decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court not only shape the law of the nation, but can often adjust the weave of our social fabric. To help the justices meet this weighty challenge, the Rules lay out a merits-stage process that offers sources beyond the arguments in the parties’ briefs, to provide information to the Court that is both comprehensive and concise.
The Joint Appendix is a compilation of materials from the record below. The JA is intended to be a useful guide for the justices as they consider the arguments in the case, and is not the sole reference source for the Court, which will have access to the entire record below. The parties are encouraged to confer on the content of the JA, but Rule 26.2 provides a document designation scheme if the parties are unable to agree. The petitioner is expected to pay the initial costs of preparing the JA—which, like all Supreme Court merits-stage filings, must be typeset to the Supreme Court’s exacting format—but Rule 26.3 requires the respondent to advance costs for documents that the petitioner deems unnecessary, and further, generally provides that the JA expenses are a taxable cost at the conclusion of the case. The Court can also assign JA costs as it deems appropriate. The parties might defer filing of the JA, or even be excused entirely, upon a granted motion to the Court. The cover is tan, includes both the petitioner’s and the respondent’s signature blocks, and indicates the date the petitioner filed the Petition, as well as the date the Court granted the writ.
The JA should be filed with the Petitioner’s Brief, 45 days after the Court grants the writ, however the petitioner can ask the Court for an extension of time.
Amici can file briefs supporting either party, or neither party (an amicus supporting neither party will have the same filing deadline and cover color as an amicus supporting the petitioner). Amicus briefs are due seven days after the party being supported files its principal brief. Important note for Supreme Court merits-stage parties: litigants should avoid filing a party’s principle brief before the due date; amici in support will have scheduled their filing date for seven days after the party’s due date, and may not be able to meet a shortened filing period. Briefs supporting the petitioner are clad in a light green cover, and briefs supporting the respondent are in dark green. Supreme Court merits-stage amicus briefs are limited to 9,000 words.
While the U.S. Supreme Court only allows filing by paper document, all filers at the merits stage must send the Clerk a text-searchable PDF copy of the brief on the day of filing. The Court’s memo detailing the Supreme Court Merits Rule provides a specific naming convention for the PDF file, depending on the identity of the filer. The filer must send a copy to every party’s counsel of record, but this does not replace the paper service requirement. Filers are not required to serve amici who have filed in the case, but if the Solicitor General has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the government, we recommend sending the SG a courtesy copy.
With over 90 years of brief filing experience, Cockle Legal Briefs can help you navigate both the written and unwritten rules of Supreme Court merits-stage practice. Give us call to schedule your next Supreme Court filing.
With the September 1st retirement of longtime Chief Deputy Clerk Chris Vasil, the U.S. Supreme Court has restructured its senior staff.
The position occupied by Mr. Vasil since 2002 has been abolished, and in its stead, four Deputy Clerks will continue to assist Supreme Court filers in the following capacities:
Practice and Procedure: Jordan “Danny” Bickell, formally the Court’s Emergency Applications Clerk, has been appointed Deputy Clerk for Practice and Procedure. He will carry out some of Mr. Vasil’s previous duties, including “the preparation of weekly conference lists, taking action on extensions of time to respond to petitions for writs of certiorari, and service as the primary point of contact for members of the Court’s bar with respect to questions of practice and procedure,” according to the Court’s announcement, available here.
Mr. Bickell will continue to perform the duties of the Emergency Applications Clerk until the Court fills the temporary vacancy. The New York Times profiled Mr. Bickell, here.
Case Management: Cynthia Rapp will continue to serve as Deputy Clerk for Case Management. She is an invaluable resource for original action proceedings.
Administration: Gary Kemp will continue to serve as Deputy Clerk for Administration. He is responsible for many of the Court’s administrative functions.
Case Initiation: Jeff Atkins, formerly the Supervisor of New Cases, will now serve as Deputy Clerk for Case Initiation – though many of his job functions remain the same. Mr. Atkins will supervise the seven case analysts who review and process new case filings.
Articles posted in the Cockle Blog are for informational purposes only. Nothing in the Cockle Blog should be taken for legal advice. In fact, Cockle Blog articles are not a substitute for proper legal research conducted by licensed attorneys.
Cockle Blog will occasionally provide opinions on certain cases and Court procedures. These opinions should be viewed with the recognition that no one can predict with certainty how the Supreme Court will rule on particular cases. Any reliance on articles contained in Cockle Blog must be done at one's own risk.