September 01, 2015

Amicus Briefs: How to Write Them, When to Ask for Them

Mary-Christine (M.C.) Sungaila

Friend of the court, or amicus curiae, briefs are often filed in appellate cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court and state supreme courts, as well as intermediate courts of appeal. And there is considerable evidence that amicus briefs have influence: Appellate courts often cite to them in issuing their decisions. One study showed that between 1986 and 1995 the U.S. Supreme Court referred to at least one amicus brief in 37 percent of its opinions; another study revealed that state supreme courts acknowledged or cited amicus briefs in 31 percent of cases and discussed arguments made in amicus briefs in 82 percent of the cases sampled.

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