Naturally, the rules for amicus briefing vary widely from state to state – sometimes even within a single state. Today, we summarize the rules for amicus participation in states having intermediate appellate courts.
Everyone is welcome
Three jurisdictions – Georgia, Pennsylvania and part of Missouri (the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals) – are very amicus-friendly, welcoming briefs without party or court approval. In Georgia Courts of Appeals, “[a]micus curiae briefs may be filed without leave of Court, disclosing the identity and interest of the person or group on whose behalf the brief is filed and limited to issues properly raised by the parties.” GA App. Ct. R. 26. Similarly, the Pennsylvania Superior Court permits an amicus to file a brief “without applying for leave to do so.” PA R. App. P. 531. The Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals, unlike the other Missouri districts, also accepts an amicus brief without any specific conditions. MO R. App. Ct. ED R. 375.
Get our permission
20 jurisdictions, with differing requirements and standards, accept amicus briefs only after the appellate courts permit the filing. For example, Florida’s rule states “[a]n amicus curiae may file a brief only by leave of court.” See e.g. Fla. R. App. P. R. 9.370. Also, time limitations may dictate whether a court is willing to hear from amici; the rules for the Nebraska Court of Appeals preclude granting leave to participate “within 20 days of oral argument.” NE R. App. § 2-109(4).
17 states in which the court’s sole discretion governs amicus participation are:
Arkansas (AR R. S. Ct. R. 4-6); California (CA Rules of Court, Rule 8.200); Connecticut (Ct. R. A. P. §67-7); Florida (FL R. App. P. R. 9.370); Hawaii (HI R. A. P. R. 28(g)); Indiana (IN R. App. P. R. 41); Kentucky (KY R. Civ. P. 76.12(7)); Louisiana (LA St. A. Ct. UNIF R. 2-12.11); Maryland (MD R. A. Ct. & Spec. A. R. 8-511); Michigan (MI R. A. R. 7.212); Mississippi (MS R. A. P. R. 29); Missouri Southern District (MO R. A. Ct. SD R. 15); Nebraska (NE R. App. § 2-109(4)); New Jersey (NJ R. Gen. App 1:13-9); New Mexico (NM R. A. P. R. 12-215); Oregon (OR R. A. P. R. 8.15); Wisconsin (WI St. 809.19(7)).
The other three have rules which explicitly require the amici to serve notice on the parties. (Kansas (Rule 6.06); Minnesota (MN St. Civ A. P. R. 129.01); New York (NY Ct. R. §670.11).)
Get our permission, unless we ask for your help
Nine jurisdictions require amici to seek leave of court to file a brief, but also have rules allowing the justices to request amicus assistance. (Alabama (AL R. A. P. R. 29); Colorado (CO St. A Ct. R. 29); Illinois (IL ST S. Ct. Rule 345); Massachusetts (MA St. R. A. P. R. 17); North Carolina (NC R. RAP. App. R. 28); North Dakota (ND R. A. P. R. 29); South Carolina (SC R. A. Ct. R. 213); Tennessee (TN R. A. P. R. 31); Utah (UT R. A. P. R. 50) (amended by 2009 UT Order 09-11).) Prospective amici need to review and comply with the specific requirements for participation. In North Carolina, for example, the motion for leave to file must set forth “the nature of the applicant’s interest, the reasons why an amicus curiae brief is believed desirable, the questions of law to be addressed in the amicus curiae brief and the applicant’s position on those questions.” (NC R. RAP. App. R. 28. North Dakota and South Carolina limit amicus briefing to the issues raised on appeal as presented by the parties. ND R. A. P. R. 29; SC R. A. Ct. R. 213.
Get someone’s permission
Five jurisdictions require amici to obtain the consent of all parties or the appellate court before filing their briefs. Again, amici may face limitations on their participation. (See Arizona (AZ St. Civ. A. P. R. 16); Oklahoma (OK St. S. Ct. R. 1.12); Washington (WA R. A. P. R. 10.6); Missouri (the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals) (MO R. A. Ct. WD R. 26); Virginia (VA R. S. Ct. R. 5A:23).)
If we don’t ask, get someone’s permission
Three jurisdictions have rules allowing amicus briefs when all parties consent, the court grants leave, or the court solicits amicus input. (Alaska (AK R. A. P. R. 212(c)(9)); Iowa (IA R. 6.906); Ohio (OH St. R. A. P. R. 17).) All three require the amici to identify their interest and articulate why their brief is desirable. A fourth, Idaho, explicitly requires service of a motion seeking leave to file an amicus brief. (ID R. A. R. 8.)
Finally, there’s Texas hold ‘em
We close with the Wild West and Texas, which seemingly flips the amicus rules. Rather than placing the onus on the amici to explain why their voice should be heard, Texas takes the approach that the court may, “for good cause,” refuse to consider an amicus brief and order its return. (TX R. App. R. 11.)
NOTE: The author thanks 2009 Sedgwick summer associate Michael J. Floryan for his diligent review and synopses of the rules noted above.