The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute
Writing Briefs in Opposition to Cert Petitions
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The most common kind of brief state attorneys file in the U.S. Supreme Court is a Brief in Opposition to a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari. Briefs in Opposition are unique documents both because of their audience (the Supreme Court Justices and their young clerks) and their goal (preventing a grant of discretionary review, not winning a case on its merits). As a result, writing a Brief in Opposition presents special challenges, particularly for state attorneys without a great deal of experience before the Court. This presentation will discuss how to write an effective Brief in Opposition — the tactical and strategic considerations; how best to structure the brief; and what the different sections of the brief should look like.