Legal Terminology: LPI Word of the Month

Amicus Curiae

An amicus curiae is a person or organization who isn’t a party to a case, but who has a strong interest in the matter.  They assist an appellate court by offering additional arguments the court may want to consider before making a ruling.  The phrase is Latin for “friend of the court.”  Amicus briefs are filed by amicus curiae and are submitted in a specific case under review.

Amicus briefs are filed by people who typically take the position of one side in a case.  They can be filed by businesses, academics, government entities, or non-profits.  In the early years, amicus briefs were rare.  From 1900 to 1950, they were filed in only about 10% of all cases on appeal.  Today more amicus briefs are being filed in all appellate courts than ever before.

Each appellate court has its own rules regarding amicus briefs.  Courts do tend to favor these types of amicus briefs which bring new relevant information to the court’s attention.

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