November 13, 2013

What’s the issue?

The Supreme Court publishes on its website lists of issues pending before the court in civil and criminal cases.  (We use those statements of issues when previewing upcoming oral arguments and reporting on forthcoming filings.)  Both lists lead with a disclaimer: “The statement of the issue or issues in each case set out below does not necessarily reflect the views of the court, or define the specific issues that will be addressed by the court.”

So, if the issues statements don’t necessarily reflect the court’s views, who writes them?  In response to an inquiry, Frank McGuire, the court’s administrator and clerk, explained that the preparation is a group effort on the part of members of the Supreme Court’s central staffs and the Chief Justice’s staff and that the goal is to come up with issues summaries that avoid legal jargon so they are accessible to the general public.  He also noted that the disclaimer does not apply — i.e., the statement of issues does reflect the court’s views — in those cases where the court’s order granting
review has expressly defined or limited the issues.

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