Amicus Curiae Case Study

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What is Amicus Curiae:

1) Amicus Curiae is Latin which stands for “friend of the court”. A non-party with an interest in the outcome of a pending lawsuit who argues or presents information in support of or against one of the parties to the lawsuit.

2) An amicus curiae brief is a persuasive legal document filed by a person or entity in a case, usually while the case is on appeal, in which it is not a party but has an interest in the outcome—typically the rule of law that would be established by the court in its ruling. Amicus parties try to “help” the court reach its decision by offering facts, analysis, or perspective that the parties to the case have not.

3) One of the best explanation of an amicus as stated by Lord Salmon in the court
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Commodity Futures Trading Commission where he rejected the brief on an amicus curiae stating.: After 16 years of reading amicus curiae briefs the vast majority of which have not assisted the judges, I have decided that it would be good to scrutinize these motions in a more careful, fish-eyed, fashion. The vast majority of amicus briefs are filed by allies of litigants and duplicate the arguments made in the litigants’ briefs, in effect, merely extending the length of the litigant’s brief. Such amicus briefs should not be allowed. They are an abuse.”

7) Many amicus curiae brief are a waste of time and money. Very often the court is flooded with short amicus curiae briefs that say little more than “me too” the amicus agrees with one side in the controversy. Other amicus briefs repeat that analysis of one of the parties with slightly varied phraseology. They fail to meet the countervailing arguments, and thus they fail to assist the court in comparing and evaluating competing claims.

8) Some Amicus curiae insist on discussing issues that are far removed from the issues before the court and thus they contribute nothing to the analysis of the
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As in other Supreme Court briefs, an amicus brief should be simple, unadorned by rhetorical devices, and undefaced by overstatement or exaggeration. Make the sentences and paragraphs relatively short. Draft the brief with active, not passive, verbs. The goal is ready comprehension. If the reader cannot comprehend the brief on the train on the way to work, it is too complicated. Boil it down. Resist any impulse to resort to purple prose. Likewise, resist the frequent use of adjectives, adverbs, or expressions like "obviously," "plainly," and their kin. Never succumb to the temptation to heap scorn on opposing counsel. Keep a moderate tone in an amicus
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