Getting your case to the Supreme Court is not easy. Many litigants file a petition for certiorari and vie for the Supreme Court's attention, but only a select few get it. So what do you do if you think your case should be heard by the Supreme Court?
California Lawyer Magazine has written a helpful article on maximizing your chances of SCOTUS hearing your case. The article also has small quiz you can take at the end of it, for California MCLE. While it's not easy to have your case reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, there are always things you could do to increase your chances.
Here's a quick summary on how to get your case to the U.S. Supreme Court:
- File a writ of certiorari: The cert is really a lawyer's ticket to the U.S. Supreme Court, but not every ticket gets you on the train. The Supreme Court doesn't grant certiorari to every petitioner. In fact, according to California Lawyer, between 1989 and 2009, the Court received an average of 7,500 cert petitions each term, yet it granted an average of only 93.
- Follow the rules: Generally, lawyers are detail oriented people, and the Supreme Court clerks are no exception. The rules require you must file your Supreme Court petition within 60 days of the entry of judgment.
- Differentiate your case: With the myriad of cases on the Supreme Court's desk, they can only hear a select few. SCOTUS will give preference to cases of national importance, involving important federal law questions on which the circuit courts are split; decisions that conflict with prior Supreme Court rulings; and important federal questions that have not yet been settled by the Court.
- Use Amicus Briefs: You can get by with a little help from your friends. Amicus briefs are typically filed by organizations or individuals who are not parties to the case. These briefs could help your case, as they demonstrate the importance and relevance of your case to the Supreme Court.
Take a look at the article and quiz for some California CLE. For more information on petitioning the Supreme Court, visit the related resources below.
- Petitioning and Opposing Certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court (FindLaw)
- Supreme Court Rules (FindLaw)
- Supreme Court: Instructions for Completing Forms (FindLaw)