Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett’s Thoughts on Amicus Briefs

This afternoon, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett and Austin lawyer Don Cruse spoke at a continuing legal education seminar.  Among other things, they addressed amicus briefs filed in the Supreme Court.

The court requests a response to the petition for review in about 33% of cases.  However, when an amicus brief has been filed prior to the time that the court decides whether to request a response, Mr. Cruse determined that the court requests a response about 85% of the time.  While only 2% of cases have amicus briefs filed prior to the time that the court decides whether to request a response, it seems that those petitions are disproportionately successful in getting a response requested.

The court requests briefs on the merits (a/k/a full briefing) in about 20% of cases.  However, when an amicus brief has been filed prior to the time that the court decides whether to request briefs on the merits, Mr. Cruse determined that the court requests briefs on the merits about 82% of the time.  While only 7% of cases have amicus briefs filed prior to the time that the court decides whether to request briefs on the merits, it seems that those petitions are disproportionately successful in getting briefs on the merits requested.

Consistent with this data, Justice Willett indicated that he enjoys reading amicus briefs and that it is advisable for a petitioner to have supporting amicus briefs filed early in the proceeding (e.g., before the court has decided to whether to request a response or at least before the court has decided whether to request briefs on the merits).

 

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