AMICUS CURIAE COMMITTEE
Guidelines & Procedures
What is the Amicus Curiae Committee?
The mission of the Amicus Curiae Committee is to file briefs in the appellate courts to support cases, which are important to PaTLA members. Through its Amicus Curiae Committee, the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association strives to maintain a high profile in the Commonwealth and federal courts by promoting, through advocacy, the rights of individuals and the goals of its membership. The Committee decides which cases to support through a fairly complex voting process.
How do I request Amicus Curiae support?
A request for assistance is made by an individual lawyer who contacts the PaTLA office, or occasionally by the Committee itself. PaTLA will participate as amicus curiae only in those cases on appeal (or have been granted an allowance for appeal) that significantly affect our clients' rights or the practice of law. The requesting party must submit all materials relevant to the case to Amicus Curiae Coordinator Kara Lafty, with a completed Request for Assistance form. This form can be downloaded here, or you may call Kara at 215-546-6451 to receive a copy by fax. The case materials will then be circulated to the Committee for their vote on whether or not to participate.
How does the Amicus Curiae Committee Voting Process work?
The case will be assigned an Allocatur Clerk, who is a member of the Amicus Curiae Committee selected on a rotating basis or by their area of expertise. The Allocatur Clerk will review all materials relevant to the case and prepare a memorandum (generally, about 2 or 3 pages) regarding whether PaTLA should or should not participate as amicus curiae. The Allocatur Clerkâ€™s memo will be kept confidential and will not be released to anyone outside of The Committee without the express permission of the Allocatur Clerk and the Committee Chair.
The remaining members of the Committee will receive a voting form, the allocatur clerkâ€™s memo, and a copy of the contested opinion. Committee members must submit their votes within the time frame established by the Amicus Curiae Coordinator on the voting form. The entire voting process takes approximately 10-14 days.
If the Committee votes to participate, a brief writer will be selected and it will then be the brief writerâ€™s duty to keep PaTLA posted on the caseâ€™s outcome. If the Committee votes not to participate, the allocatur clerk may be asked to contact the requesting attorney to discuss the case. The file will then be closed.
Who is on the Amicus Curiae Committee?
The committee consists of 30+ PaTLA members selected at the start of the PaTLA leadership year. A Chair is selected by the PaTLA President, and a Vice Chair is selected by PaTLA President-Elect. For a complete list of the 2004-05 Amicus Curiae Committee, click here.
How can I become a member of the Amicus Curiae Committee?
First, you must be a member of PaTLA. Second, you must submit a brief to the Amicus Curiae Coordinator at PaTLA that represents your writing skills. The brief will then be circulated to the Amicus Curiae Committee and they will vote on whether or not to accept you into the Committee.
What is the George F. Douglas, Jr., Amicus Curiae Award?
This award was created in 1995 to recognize a member's outstanding and industrious appellate advocacy on behalf of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. The award ceremony takes place at the PaTLA Annual Convention.
What is the Award Selection Procedure?
The Amicus Curiae Coordinator will solicit nominations for the award from the committee members. A Nominating Committee consisting of the Amicus Curiae Chair, Vice Chair, and a third member to be selected by the Chair and Vice Chair (usually a past winner of the Award) will select a recommended recipient for the award. The Amicus Curiae Coordinator will issue to the members of the committee, in writing, a list of ALL nominees for the award. The Amicus Curiae Committee will determine the award winner via vote; the award winner will be announced at the Spring Board of Governors meeting. The award ceremony will take place at the PaTLA annual convention. For a list of previous award winners, click here.
What is the Award Criteria?
The recipient of the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award must meet the following minimum criteria:
Having served as a member of the Amicus Curiae Committee for at least one year and must have voted in at least 80% of the cases presented to the Committee. If the recipient was a member of the Amicus Curiae Committee for more than one year then he or she must still maintain an 80% voting record on average.
Having expressed a willingness to write appellate briefs when called upon to do so and have written at least two appellate briefs on behalf of PaTLA.
The briefs must be of such a quality as to represent superior standards of appellate advocacy.
Leadership positions on the Amicus Committee, contributions to the administration of the Committee, and attendance at Committee meetings should be given consideration in selecting the Award recipient.
While extraordinary service in a single year may justify the selection of the recipient, the Award is intended to promote and reward long-term service to the Committee and PaTLA's appellate advocacy program.
For more information, please email [email protected].