Who can submit an amicus letter

HEIDENBERGER, Peter

The "Amicus Curiae Letter"

RIW 1996, 918 (Issue 11)

1. Introduction The "Amicus Curiae Brief" is not a "letter". This practice, which is alien to German law but is common in American trials, is a form-based written statement from a "friend of the court". He is primarily at the U.S. Supreme Court judged. The amicus can present facts as well as legal arguments which, in their opinion, were not or not fully addressed by the disputing parties or which could otherwise be overlooked by the court. The procedural rules of the Supreme Court require that an amicus pleading should only contain "relevant matters" that the parties have not pointed out Amicus letters can also be submitted to lower federal and state courts. Different rules apply to lower instances at the federal level, as well as to the courts of the individual states. However, prior approval from the court is generally required. Anyone interested in the outcome of a lawsuit can take a position as an amicus. In practice, mainly interest groups, scientists and other affected groups as well as governments - be it American or foreign states - turn to the court. For reasons of cost, individuals are less likely to be found in this role. Approval by the courtThe filing of an amicus brief requires the approval of the court2Supreme Court Rule 37.5 .. The only exception is the American government. Represented by the Solicitor General, this informs the court as an amicus in cases of public interest. The Solicitor General can also be expressly asked by the Supreme Court to comment on a legal issue as an amicus. The motion for leave must state whether the opponent agrees to this. In addition, the amicus brief to be submitted must be attached to the application. The court is thus able to review the content and appropriateness of the Amicus-Brief when it decides on its approval. Even if the opponent does not give his consent, the application is usually granted. For this reason, legal representatives will only refuse to consent to an amicus submission by the opponent if special circumstances make this appear advisable for tactical reasons. Allowing an amicus brief is entirely at the discretion of the court; There is no legal entitlement to this. In order to be able to plead orally as an amicus before the Supreme Court, additional approval from the court is required. It is usually given to the Solicitor General. Otherwise, a plea is only possible if the party supported by the Amicus allows it within its limited speaking time. Since this is only 30 minutes, there is usually no room for a plea from the amicus. Legal Effect of Amicus Briefs The Chairman of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, affirmed in a speech to lawyers televised on June 29, 1996, that Amicus briefs could be of value to his court if they shed a different light the problems throw up as they are put forward by the contending parties. However, he warned attorneys present against repeating the arguments of the party they supported in amicus briefs. Despite this warning, some amicus briefs differ little from party briefs. Experience shows that between a defendant - z. B. in a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer - and close ties to the interest group that supports them. A manufacturer expects its interest group to adopt all legal arguments put forward by the manufacturer's lawyer. The effort associated with studying such amicus briefs can annoy the court and thus lead to effects opposite to those intended. "Unnecessarily incriminating amicus pleadings are not welcomed," says Supreme Court Rule 37. Amicus pleaders are well advised to work closely with the attorneys of the party they support for the purpose of coordination.4. The Federal Republic of Germany as Amicus Curiae On August 17, 1978, the State Department had informed the foreign ambassadors accredited in Washington that the U.S. The Supreme Court would no longer accept correspondence from foreign governments addressed to the court; In the future, statements on processes should be made in the form of Amicus briefs. Up to this point in time, foreign governments had turned to the court in verbal diplomatic notes. As a result of this State Department instruction, foreign governments have been making increasing use of amicus pleadings since 1978. An example of how changes in law can be seen in amicus pleadings is provided by the dispute over the exclusivity of the Hague Convention. Both the American government and the Federal Republic of Germany had submitted their respective views to the Supreme Court in amicus briefs4 Société Nat. Ind. Aerospatiale v. U.S. Dist.Court, 482 US 522, 96 L Ed 2 d 461, 107 S. Ct 2542 .. The Solicitor General spoke in December 1983 in the case of Volkswagen A.G. v. Falzon5RIW 1984 p. 481; RIW 1986 p. 489; RIW 1987 p. 666; 100 S.Ct. 1819 (1983), RIW 1984 p. 504. as Amicus for exclusivity of the Evidence Convention. A year later in another Amicus brief in Club Mediterranée v. Dorin6S.Ct. 83-461. On the other hand, as an amicus, he took the opposite view, the convention "is not exclusive." The Federal Republic shared the view taken by the Solicitor General 1983 that the convention was exclusive and in this sense expressed itself as an amicus to the Supreme Court7See RIW 1984 p. 841; RIW 1984 p. 666 .. The majority of the judges did not accept this interpretation of the Convention, despite the earlier expressed view of the Solicitor General. Rather, it endorsed the interpretation last put forward by the American government that exclusivity should be denied. The fact that four of the nine judges gave dissenting opinions shows that there was by no means unanimity. Summary The term "friend of the court" is in itself misleading. "Friend of the party" would be more correct, because in the end the amicus speaks for them. Nevertheless, Amicus pleadings are rated as promoting the finding of the law. As long as they meet the strict formal requirements, they are usually received with goodwill. To what extent the court is influenced by them cannot usually be determined. Amicus pleadings are only cited or commented on in the judgments of the courts in exceptional cases.

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