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Who Can Write an Amicus Brief?

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  • Written By: R. Kimball
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
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  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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Technically, anyone can write an amicus brief; getting the court to accept a brief, however, is granted based upon the specific court's rules of procedure. Most courts require that the brief author receive permission from all of the parties involved, that the court itself request the author to submit a brief, or that the brief’s author request permission to file from the court. Regardless of how an author receives permission to file an amicus brief, the court does not have to review the information provided within the brief.

Generally those writing an amicus brief are considered to be friends of the court. The role of the brief is to present information to the court that neither of the parties to the case would present on their own. Many case decisions that have far-reaching implications are the types of cases wherein an amicus curiae might attempt to provide information to the court.

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The court will not allow an amicus brief to be entered into the case if either of the parties has solicited assistance on this matter from the brief's author. Frequently, the parties writing these briefs are large, non-governmental organizations that are attempting to sway the court toward a legal change or social change with a specific decision. Most briefs are written by either an attorney or a group with a large legal staff, but one does not have to be an attorney to write a brief. Newspapers and other media outlets may write editorial pieces similar to an amicus brief that are presented to the public at large in hopes the specific jurists on the court might also review them.

In cases in which the decisions might affect an entire industry, companies from that industry may seek leave from the court to file this type od brief. Individual federal governments, government agencies, state governments or other similar interested parties also can be granted the right to file as part of the rules or procedure in certain courts. Each court may specify its own requirements for eligibility to file the brief. The United States Supreme Court, for instance, requires any party filing such a brief to provide specific information regarding the party filing on the cover of the brief, to deliver the brief in booklet format and provide 40 copies of the brief.

Courts appreciate amicus briefs filed by parties providing the court with solid information to assist the court in its analysis. Courts frown upon any party submitting a brief that does nothing to help the court. Any party attempting to file this type of brief should be doing so with the intention of assisting the court and not a specific party to the case.

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