SCOTUS Building Electronic FIling System

There’s been some buzz online about the U.S. Supreme Court announcing that it is building an electronic filing system. Word came in the form of Chief Justice Roberts’ 2014 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary [.pdf].

The report states:

The Supreme Court is currently developing its own electronic filing system, which may be operational as soon as 2016. Once the system is implemented, all filings at the Court—petitions and responses to petitions, merits briefs, and all other types of motions and applications—will be available to the legal community and the public without cost on the Court’s website. Initially, the official filing of documents will continue to be on paper for all parties in all cases, with the electronic submission an additional requirement for parties represented by attorneys. Once the system has operated effectively for some time and the Supreme Court Bar has become well acquainted with it, the Court expects that electronic filing will be the official means for all parties represented by counsel, but paper filings will still be required.

So it sounds like electronic filing is on its way, but the major Supreme Court publishers don’t need to worry about their business models going down the tubes just yet. As long as paper copies are required in their current bound format, Supreme Court practitioners will need outside publishers.

And speaking of going down the tubes, the report is worth a read for its fascinating preamble discussing the history of pneumatic tubes (you know, those tube systems you use at the bank drive through?) at the Court. It’s an interesting discussion of the speed of change, or lack thereof, in the Federal court system.

An Operatic Constitutional Battle

In the you’ve-got-to-hear-it-to believe-it department, composer and recent law school grad Derrick Wang has written an opera pitting Justices Scalia and Ginsburg (and their conflicting views) against each other. Be sure to click through to the “Listen Now” button — not only will you hear excerpts from the clever opera, but the piece also offers the rare chance to hear the two justices speak.

SCOTUS Updates Rules of Practice

The United States Supreme Court has updated its rules of practice, effective July 1, 2013 [.pdf]. The changes are relatively minor, such that the Court did not make them available for comment before adopting them. The changes include:

  • Rule 12.6: Providing that a party aligned with and supporting the grant of a petition has 30 days to file a supporting brief. The party must still notify the court of its intent to file within 20 days, and cannot get an enlargement of time to file.
  • Rules 15 & 18: Increasing the number of days the Clerk waits to distribute petitions to the Justices, which gives Petitioners more time to get a reply brief served and included in the distribution packet.
  • Rule 29.3: requiring electronic transmission of Petitions to other parties in most instances.
  • Rules 37.2(a) and 3(a): Clarifying that only one signatory to an amicus brief need get consent, eliminating the need for additional signatories to file consents.
  • Rule 39: Allowing attorneys who are appointed by a state court to appear without filing an affidavit of indigency.
  • Rule 28.8: Requiring everyone to argue before the Court to be an attorney.

This article explains the interesting backstory of the Court’s new Rule 28.8, including the fascinating story of the last non-lawyer to argue (and win!) before the Supreme Court.