Q:  How long do I have to file my petition for a writ of certiorari?

A: You must file your petition within 90 calendar days, not three months, from the date of entry of the final judgment (or denial of a petition for rehearing) in the United States court of appeals or highest state appellate court.  The issuance of a mandate after judgment has no bearing on the computation of time.

Q:  The Supreme Court has to hear my case, right?

A:  Supreme Court review of your petition is not a matter of right, but of judicial discretion. The Court is not concerned with correcting errors in lower court decisions.  Its primary function is to decide cases which present issues of importance beyond the particular facts and parties involved in a particular case.

Question_markQ:  What kind of cases is the Supreme Court interested in?

A:  Oftentimes, the Court is looking for the existence of a conflict between your lower court decision and the decision of another court on the same issue.  One of the important functions of the Supreme Court is to resolve disagreements among lower courts about specific legal questions.  Another consideration is the importance of the issue to the public.

Q:  What should I include in my appendix?

A:  This depends on whether your cases arose out of the federal or state court system:    

  • Federal system:  You must include the decision of the court of appeals, the decision of the district court, and the findings and recommendations of the magistrate judge, if any were issued.  If the court of appeals denied a petition for rehearing, you must include a copy of that order.  Other material may be included on a case-by-case basis.
  • State system:  You must include the decision of which review is sought, and the decision of the lower court that was initially appealed.  If the highest court in your state denied a discretionary review or petition for rehearing, a copy of that order must also be included.  Other material may be included on a case-by-case basis.

Q:  Can I photo-reduce my appendix?

A:  No.  If you are filing a booklet format petition, appendix material must be typeset so that it complies with the size and page requirements of Rule 33.1.

Q:  What does the Court do with my petition after it’s filed?

A:  Once all of the “cert. stage” briefs – your petition, the brief in opposition (if any), the reply brief (if any), and the amicus briefs (if any) – are filed, they are distributed to the Justices for consideration.  All but one Justice (Justice Alito) participate in what is known as the “cert. pool” – wherein cases are reviewed by a law clerk who recommends further analysis or an outright denial.  If additional review is called for, the Justices will discuss your case during their conference (the Justices’ private meeting) and call a vote to grant, deny, or hold your petition over for the Court’s next scheduled conference.  The Court typically announces its decision to grant or deny certiorari in its orders list, issued on the Monday after conference.