amicus curiae briefAmicus curiae briefs are submitted by non-parties to a case as a way of introducing information and concerns to the Court, demonstrating that a case’s outcome may have wider effects beyond the immediate parties to the suit. They can provide valuable assistance to the Court in its deliberations by presenting an argument or citing authorities not found in the briefs of the parties, or by providing important technical or background information which the parties have not supplied. These materials can occasionally play a critical role in the Court’s rationale for a decision.

Supreme Court Rule 37  states “

[A]n amicus curiae brief that brings to the attention of the Court relevant matter not already brought to its attention by the parties may be of considerable help to the Court. An amicus curiae brief that does not serve this purpose burdens the Court, and its filing is not favored.”

So when should a non-party file an amicus curiae brief? The first consideration for a potential amicus is whether the case presents an issue of substantial importance. The second consideration concerns whether the potential amicus can offer something new to the Court not previously presented. Serial filers risk losing credibility with the Court, if they continually file amicus briefs that lack distinction and where their purported interest is weak.

Not all amicus briefs are read by all of the Justices. The number is so great that most of the Justices have their law clerks sift out the briefs or parts of briefs that they think add enough to the parties’ briefs to be worth reading….Briefs that add nothing to the substantive factual or legal presentations by the parties are not likely to survive the preliminary examination by the law clerks or to influence favorably a Justice or clerk who reads them. On the contrary, they will be regarded as wasteful of valuable Court time. Supreme Court Practice – 9th ed., Eugene Gressman, et al.

An amicus curiae brief can provide valuable information to the Supreme Court about a technical area of the law, or a case’s larger implications for people and policies. A succinct, focused amicus brief has the ability to grab the Court’s attention by complimenting the principal party’s brief and help persuade the Court to render a favorable ruling. Cockle Legal Briefs is at the forefront of amicus curiae filings – both at the petition and on the merits stage.

Our services include:

  • Checking for rule compliance.
  • Advising when consent letters and motions are needed.
  • Proofreading and printing.

To help you get started, view an amicus curiae brief sample, check out my blog entitled “Five Answers to Common Amicus Brief Questions,” or contact us today.