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In this post, I discuss amici curiae briefs, what they are, and the influence they may possess within the Arkansas appellate process.

amici curiae

Photo by Wendy Seltzer is licensed under CC 2.0.

When working with appeals, it is not uncommon to see or hear the Latin phrase Amici Curiae. In highly charged court cases with significant implications for society at large, particularly those cases before the United States Supreme Court, references to amici curiae briefs—sometimes simply referenced as amicus briefs or friend of the court briefs—are common in the media.

Such briefs can be very influential. In Turner v. Rogers, for example, the United States Supreme Court based its decision, not on the arguments made by the parties to the case, but on an amicus brief. (For more information on the increasing influence of the amicus brief, see The National Law Journal’s The Court’s Increasing Reliance on Amicus Curiae in the Past Term.) Therefore, an understanding of Amici Curiae and amicus briefs is critical when dealing with appellate law.

Amici Curiae

An Amici Curiae, or friend of the court, is someone who is not a party to the case and has not been solicited by any of the parties to the case to assist but who nonetheless seeks to offer information to the court.

An Amici Curiae generally offers additional information to the Court when the party believes that there may be broad implications of the court’s decision beyond the situation of the actual parties involved. An Amici Curiae does this through the filing of an amicus brief.

Amicus Briefs in Arkansas

In Arkansas, Rule 4-6 of the Rules of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of the State of Arkansas governs Amici Curiae. In Arkansas, attorneys seeking to file such briefs may only do so with the permission of the Court.

Attorneys may seek permission to file an amicus brief by filing a motion for permission with the court stating the reasons why the brief is necessary. The court, however, is under no compulsion to grant the motion.

If the court does grant the motion, however, the filing party must still meet court deadlines. If the brief supports the appellant’s position or does not favor one party or the other, it must be filed with the court within the deadline set for the appellant brief. If the brief supports the position of the appellee, it is due at the same time as the appellee brief.

Even where permitted to file such a brief, however, Amici Curiae attorneys may not participate in oral arguments for the case, nor may they file a petition for a rehearing of the case in their own names. (Though, it should be noted, that Amici Curiae attorneys may participate in a petition for rehearing with the permission of the attorneys that are parties to the case or by permission of the court to join in the motion or brief.)


Rule 4-6 of The Rules of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals of the State of Arkansas

See Also:

The Notice of Appeal

Deadline to File the Record on Appeal

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