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Amicus Curiae

Definition:  Latin term meaning "friend of the court".  The name for a brief filed with the court by someone who is not a party to the case.

"... a phrase that literally means "friend of the court" -- someone who is not a party to the litigation, but who believes that the court's decision may affect its interest."  William H. Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, page 89.

Amicus Curiae briefs are filed in many Supreme Court matters, both at the Petition for Writ of Certiorari stage, and when the Court is deciding a case on its merits. Some studies have shown a positive correlation between number of amicus briefs filed in support of granting certiorari, and the Court's decision to grant certiorari.  Some friend of the court briefs provide valuable information about legal arguments, or how a case might affect people other than the parties to the case.  Some organizations file friend of the court briefs in an attempt to "lobby" the Supreme Court, obtain media attention, or impress members.

"An 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." Rule 37(1), Rules of the Supreme Court of the U.S.

"FRAP 29. BRIEF OF AN AMICUS CURIAE A brief of an amicus curiae may be filed only if accompanied by written consent of all parties, or by leave of court granted on motion or at the request of the court, except that consent or leave shall not be required when the brief is presented by the United States or an officer or agency thereof, or by a State, Territory or Commonwealth. The brief may be conditionally filed with the motion for leave. A motion for leave shall identify the interest of the applicant and shall state the reasons why a brief of an amicus curiae is desirable. Save as all parties otherwise consent, any amicus curiae shall file its brief within the time allowed the party whose position as to affirmance or reversal the amicus brief will support unless the court for cause shown shall grant leave for a later filing, in which event it shall specify within what period an opposing party may answer. A motion of an amicus curiae to participate in the oral argument will be granted only for extraordinary reasons." Rule 29. Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.


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