If a party believes that he/she is without the financial resources to pay the costs of a court action or proceeding, he/she may apply for in forma pauperis (IFP) status.  In the Supreme Court, that means filing without having to pay the $300 filing fee or producing booklet format briefs.

poorParties who were granted IFP status in the proceedings below often assume that they will be granted the same status in the Supreme Court.  However, the vast majority of IFP applications filed at this stage fall short of demonstrating the degree of indigency the Supreme Court demands.

If you wish to proceed IFP, you should understand that the chances of obtaining this status are slim, and if your application is denied, the Court will likely require you to re-file your brief in booklet format in order to docket your petition.  While the preponderance of cases in which an IFP application is denied are civil cases, pauperis status has been denied in criminal cases as well, even where the applicant was incarcerated.  See Gressman, E., et al., Supreme Court Practice, at 564 (9th ed.).

If leave is denied, the petitioner is given a due date (typically 21 days after the denial) to file the petition in booklet format in accordance with Rule 33.1 and pay the filing fee.

Pro se tip: download our helpful checklist!

Petitioners who have been denied IFP status have two options: they can file a motion to reconsider the denial (though the re-file date will not automatically be extended), or, they can call the knowledgeable staff at Cockle to arrange for the preparation of a Rule 33.1 booklet (a sample of our work can be found here).

The leading Supreme Court practitioner’s guide and a long line of cases suggest that “it seems futile to request that the Court rehear or reconsider an order denying leave to proceed IFP.  The Court will almost certainly deny such a motion.” See Gressman, at 570; Corey v. Mendel, 534 U.S. 809 (2001); In re Gaydos, 519 U.S. 1089 (1997); and Martin v. Mrvos, 502 U.S. 1028 (1992).

Thus, many petitioners who have been denied IFP status often place their trust in Cockle’s expert Document Analysts to transform their IFP submissions into rule-compliant booklets.  Cockle Legal Briefs ensures that the petition and appendix are typeset in the proper Century font, printed on paper of the appropriate size and weight, and bound with the correct cover color.

We work with pro se filers every day.  We also have a variety of helpful blog posts, such as: Pro Se Litigation Shouldn’t Be A DrawbackResources for Pro Se Petitioners in the U.S. Supreme CourtSix Common Questions and Answers for Pro Se Litigants; and Prisoners As Pro Se Litigants.  We’re always glad to help make the task of filing in the Supreme Court a little less daunting.  Contact us today to get started!