Preparing Your Brief

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7 Aug, 2018

Supreme Court Joint Appendix Checklist

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Pilots are required to learn and use checklists for every aspect of flight, from preparing for take-off to dealing with equipment malfunction. It was a checklist that helped Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeffery Skiles safely land their US Airways flight in the Hudson River after the plane’s engines were damaged by a flock […]

7 Jun, 2018

Supreme Court Petition Checklist

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Pilots are required to learn and use checklists for every aspect of flight, from preparing for take-off to dealing with equipment malfunction. It was a checklist that helped Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeffery Skiles safely land their US Airways flight in the Hudson River after the plane’s engines were damaged by a flock […]

24 Apr, 2018

Formulating the Question Presented

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 “I have always been much better at asking questions than knowing what the answers were.” – Bill James, baseball historian
There may be no more daunting task in all Supreme Court practice than distilling a 9,000 word cert. petition down to one or two questions presented. This level of difficulty should come as no surprise—only the U.S. […]

9 Apr, 2018

Pointed QPs

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“Brevity is the soul of wit.” ― William Shakespeare
The questions presented page is assuredly the most important element of a Supreme Court petition.  Justices can reject an entire case based on review of the questions alone.  Rule 14.1 provides that they should be “expressed concisely in relation to the circumstances of the case, without unnecessary […]

12 Feb, 2018

A Cert. Worthy Argument

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While Supreme Court experts offer nuanced distinctions on how to construct the argument section in a petition for writ of certiorari, most agree that accounting for the difference in purpose between a cert. petition and a brief filed in the lower courts is essential.

The paramount difference between a petition and a lower court brief is […]

10 Nov, 2017

Drafting Notes for Petitions and Petition Stage Reply Briefs

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While the rules for the Supreme Court provide the guidance necessary for producing a compliant brief, there are some unwritten requirements that every filer should be aware of when preparing their Petition and Petition Stage Reply brief. Failure to comply with these unwritten rules may result in having your filing rejected by the Court.

Petitions

Questions Presented […]

23 Oct, 2017

Which Supreme Court Justice Will Rule On Your Extension?

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Though the Clerk of the Supreme Court is empowered by Rule 30.4 to act upon most applications and motions which seek an enlargement of a filing deadline, he is specifically prohibited from acting on an application to extend the time to file a petition for writ of certiorari.  All such applications must be addressed to and acted […]

12 Oct, 2017

Amicus Briefs: The Interest of Amicus Curiae Section and Footnote 1

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Two of the most common pitfalls when drafting an amicus brief in the Supreme Court can be found on the first page: Interest of Amicus Curiae section and the required Footnote 1 information. Fortunately, these errors are easily remedied and can often be avoided. In this post, we will discuss how to best handle your […]

29 Sep, 2017

Supreme Court Updates Its Rules to Reflect Electronic Filing

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The Supreme Court has adopted a revised version of its Rules to implement electronic filing.  The revisions will take effect when the electronic filing system becomes operational on November 13, 2017.  Highlights from the revisions are reproduced below,* in order of importance:
Rule 29. Electronic Filing:
“In addition to the filing requirements set forth in , […]

19 Sep, 2017

Appellate Writing Style: An In-Depth Study

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“Voiceless, passive, complex writing is a liability.”

— John Campbell, associate professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and co-director of the Denver Empirical Justice Institute.

A recent study published at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law finds a strong correlation between attorneys who win cases and attorneys who most value writing […]