Template/Sample/Example of Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the US Supreme Court
When filing a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari with the US Supreme Court , the petitioner (either pro se or a lawyer) has to file it under very specific rules of the Surpreme Court. These can be somewhat difficult to follow with regards to paper, text, font type, font size and formatting, so this Instructable has been set up with a template/sample of a Petition that was accepted by the Clerk of the Supreme Court in 2019, so it should be helpful when filing.
[Legal note of protection: There is no guarantee that your petition will be accepted by the Supreme Court when using this template.]
This Instructable is geared toward a pro se litigant. Lawyers have slightly different filing rules, but a lawyer could still use this template/sample.
Attached as PDF and ODG (Open Document Graphic).
- Computer with Windows, Mac OS X or Linux operating system.
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Step 1: Using the Open Document Graphic Format (ODG) File
- In order to view Open Document Graphic format files, it is necessary to download and install LibreOffice, an excellent and high quality piece of Free Software.
- To do this, go to www.LibreOffice.org
- Click on "Download", then "Download LibreOffice"
- Select your operating system (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)
- Click "Download"
- For Windows and Mac OS X, once LibreOffice has been downloaded, double left click on the downloaded file to start the installation process. You should be able to just accept the default settings.
- For Linux, there are multiple ways, but one way can be done from the terminal by issuing the following command: sudo snap install libreoffice
- Many Linux distributions may have it already installed
- More information on the installation process can be found here: Documentation on how to install LibreOffice
- Once LibreOffice is installed, download the ODG file from Step 1.
- Open LibreOffice.
- From within LibreOffice, go to File > Open > find the ODG file that was downloaded > click on file > Click "Open"
Step 2: Fill in Case-Specific Information
- Once the file is opened in LibreOffice, fill in your case-specific information.
- On the cover, do not worry about the Number; it will be assigned to you once the case is accepted by the Court
- For the rest of the Cover, fill in the name of the Plaintiff/Petitioner, name of the Defendant/Respondent, the Federal Appeals Court number (1st, 2nd, etc), Petitioner/Defendant name and address. Note that the Cover does not have a page number.
- Please note: On this template, you will have to do the page numbering manually; it will not automatically insert page numbers for you. It was easier to do it manually than to add the complexity of having LibreOffice do it automatically.
- Please note that the Supreme Court is very strict on page numbering with regards to what information goes on which pages. The numbering on this template were accepted as of 2019.
- On Page -i-, type in your Question Presented for Review; please note that this must be an issue of federal law
- After that, put in the List of Parties involved in the case.
- The final section on Page -i- is the Corporate Disclosure Statement
- Page -ii- is the Table of Contents
- Page -iii- is the Table of Authorities; I put a sample case in the first line (Smith v. American President Lines, Ltd) to use as a sample.
- Page -iv- includes 2 sections of the Table of Authorities: Constitutional Provisions and Statutes.
- Please note that Page 1 starts here. The Supreme Court is very specific about page numbering format.
- One Page 1, list the opinions in your case in the section "Citations of Opinions".
- The 2nd section on Page 1 is the "Statement for the Basis of the Jurisdiction".
- The 3rd section is the "Constitutional Provisions and Statutes"; these are the same as the ones that were listed in the Table of Authorities.
- Page 2 is where you state the facts of the case under "Statement of the Case". Please note that this can go on for several pages.
- The next page (listed as "Page 6"), is where you start the argument for your case under "Reasons for Granting the Writ". Please note that this can go on for several pages as well.
- The Conclusion is on a separate page; in the template it is listed as being on "Page 10". This is where you sign the Petition. It does not need to be notarized.
- The Appendix starts on Page 11. These are usually the cases in the lower courts that came before the one you are filing. Try to cut and paste them into the template; if not you will have to type them in manually. The Supreme Court does not allow images.
- Be sure to save the document in ODG format as you go along so that you will not lose any data.
- Also, remember to manually put the page numbers on each page and change them if they need to.
Step 3: Save Petition As PDF File
- After you are done, please make sure that you are within the proper word count as required by the Supreme Court. As of this writing (2019) it is 9,000 words.
- Save the ODG document as a PDF. To do this, go to File > Export as PDF
- Send this to a Kinkos/copy shop with the instructions to put it into a booklet format, 65 lbs cover and double staple the booklet. You can use a legal printer but they have a tendency to be expensive. This template falls within the requirements set up by the Supreme Court so you should not have to use a legal printer.
- Make 40 copies for the Supreme Court.
- Make 3 copies for the defense.
- If you are a pro se litigant, make one copy on 8.5x11 paper so that the Court Clerk can scan it in when they receive it.
- If you are a lawyer, you will have to file an electronic copy yourself. More information can be found here:
Step 4: Fill Out Certificates of Compliance and Service
- The Supreme Court requires that the Plaintiff signs a Certificate of Compliance stating that the number of words contained within the sections "Statement of the Case" and "Reasons for Granting the Writ" are under 9,000 words.
- An easy way to do the word count is to open a LibreOffice Writer document, then paste in the text from the sections "Statement of the Case" and "Reasons for Granting the Writ". Then use LibreOffice Writer to do the word count by going to Tools > Word Count.
- Use LibreOffice Draw to open the Certificate of Compliance attached. Enter in the word count, print and sign. Note you do not need a notary.
- Use LibreOffice Draw to open the attached Certificate of Service. Print out.
- Send 3 copies of the petition to the defense using US Postal Service Priority Mail Delivery Confirmation and note the tracking number.
- Write the tracking number on the Certificate of Service. Sign and date. Note that you do not need a notary.
- Mail the 40 copies of the petition, the 1 copy of the 8.5x11 version (if you are pro se), the Certificate of Compliance and the Certificate of Service along with $300 check/money order to the Supreme Court in Washington DC:
Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street NE
Washington, DC 20543
The least expensive is US Postal Service Delivery Priority Mail with tracking.
- Please note that the petition has to be postmarked within 90 days of the decision of the lower court. To be safe, I would try to send it out several weeks before the deadline so that you have time. To be 100% sure, please call the Supreme Court Clerk's Office at 202-479-3011 for the exact date.
- If there are any errors in your filing, it is not a major disaster. The Supreme Court will send it back with a list of changes to be made so that it will be accepted. In legal terms this is known as "curing a defective filing".
- For lawyers, you will have to file it electronically as well; more information is here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/filingandrules/electr...