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.
Questions Presented is arguably the most important section of any Petition as it must capture the reader’s attention and entice the Justices to delve deeper into the Petition itself. Due to the importance of this section, it can be tempting to be overly descriptive when setting the stage for your question(s) with a lengthy introduction. The Court permits introductory material before the question but as noted in their Guide to Paid Cases, the introductory statement should be “very brief.” This guidance has been further distilled into the following rule:
- The question itself must start on the first page.
At a minimum, the text of a question must start on the first page of the brief but may continue onto the second page. Ideally, the entire section should be restricted to one page. As the National Association of Attorneys General’s U.S. Supreme Court Brief Writing Style Guide advises, while the Court permits a second page for the questions presented, it is disfavored.
Unlike Rule 24 with Merits Stage Reply Briefs, Rule 15.6 provides no information regarding required sections which in theory allows for a fairly free form brief. However, there has been recent guidance from the Court indicating that Petition Stage Reply Briefs also have required sections.
- Argument and Conclusion sections are required in both Petition and Merit Stage Reply Briefs.
Failure to comply with any of these rules may result in your brief being rejected for docketing and may require reprinting the entire brief to remedy the errors. However, with both our Full Service and Camera-Ready options, we will provide a review of your brief to ensure you have complied with all the Court’s rules to avoid these and other potentially costly errors.