Petition for certiorari
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Petition for Certiorari. What to look for in your research. Example Case: Snyder v Phelps. Facts of the Case: In 2006 Mr. Snyder’s son was killed in action in Iraq. He was laid to rest in April of that year in a private ceremony in their hometown.

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Petition for certiorari

Petition for Certiorari

What to look for in your research

Example case snyder v phelps
Example Case: Snyder v Phelps

  • Facts of the Case:

    • In 2006 Mr. Snyder’s son was killed in action in Iraq. He was laid to rest in April of that year in a private ceremony in their hometown.

    • Phelps and his associates at the Westboro Baptist Church determined to picket the funeral and had himself and several of his parishioners outside the church with signs saying such things as, “Thank God for IEDs”

    • Mr. Snyder sued and won a $10 million verdict at the trial court

    • Mr. Phelps appealed and the 4th Circuit set aside the jury award for pain and suffering.

    • Mr. Snyder has appealed to the Supreme Court and asked them to rule on this case.

Petition for certiorari1
Petition for Certiorari

  • Filed on behalf of Mr. Snyder

  • Goes to the Court first and then the Respondent has a set time period in which to file their response brief.

  • Lays out the reasons why the Supreme Court should take the case and gives a preview of the arguments that will be made should the case be picked up.

    • Three reasons to hear: Split at Circuit, Precedent must be changed, Court has not ruled on the issue

Why should the court grant cert
Why Should the Court Grant Cert?

  • The mourners at the funeral constitute a “Captive Audience” and as such deserve protection from Mr. Phelps’ actions. (Split at Circuit over this point)

  • The Fourth Circuit incorrectly applied the precedent case. (Precedent does not apply)

  • The Fourth Circuit effectively placed Mr. Phelps right to speech above Mr. Snyder’s right to assembly and religion, that is unconstitutional. (Court hasn’t ruled on this)

Petition in response
Petition in Response

  • Filed by the Phelps’

  • Filed with access to the Writ of Cert filed by the other side

  • Should counter the arguments made by the plaintiff

  • Should lay out reasons why the Supreme Court should not hear this case

    • So, there is no split, the precedent is good and what the Court has ruled in the past is sufficient to decide this case.

Why the court should refuse the case
Why The Court should refuse the case:

  • The speech in this case was on a public issue and directed at someone who had made themselves a public figure so it’s fair game. (no split)

  • The question of private vs public speech has already been effectively outlined by the Court and was correctly applied by the Appellate Court. (no need to correct precedent)

  • The Respondent takes issue with the facts of the case and asserts that the circumstances give them the right to protest. (there is no new issue in this case)

The take away
The Take Away

  • Your task first is to understand the law and how it is to be applied to your case.

  • Your second task is to look at the three typical reasons the Court awards Cert and determine if any of them are true for your question.

    • Split at lower court, precedent is incorrect, Court has yet to rule on the issue and must at this time.

  • Your third task is to make the argument on both sides to help you determine what your final argument will be.