Cal. Litig. 2015, Volume 28, Number 3

Amicus Briefs in the California Supreme Court: Indicia of their Importance and Impact

By Mary-Christine Sungaila

Increased Amicus Participation Nationwide

Amicus curiae or "friend of the court" briefs are now filed in a majority of United States Supreme Court cases and various state supreme courts. In the Supreme Court’s 1965-66 term, amicus briefs were filed in 35 percent of cases; by 1995, amicus briefs were filed in nearly 90 percent. (See Sungaila, Effective Amicus Practice Before the United States Supreme Court: A Case Study (1999) 8 S. Cal. Rev. L. & Women’s Stud. 187, 188, fns. 4-6.) Analysis of the 1999 to 2008 terms shows that in civil cases the average filing rate for amicus briefs was 92.4 percent. (See Sungaila, A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed: The Increased Prevalence and Influence of Amicus Briefs (March 2010) International Association of Defense Counsel Appellate Practice Committee Newsletter.)

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