Friends of the Court

I know what a Friend of the Court brief is, but why is it called that?

I sure put that one on the wrong board. I meant it for General Questions. Sorry.

The OED tells us that Friend of the Court comes from the Latin amicus curiae, and refers to a disinterested party (that is, a party without a direct interest in the case at hand, not one that doesn’t care) advising the court on a point that may have been overlooked. Hence, they’re helping out the court without having a claim in the outcome.

They’re usually filed by groups with an agenda that the decision in the case will benefit or injure, but without a direct interest in the case. For example, in a lawsuit part of which revolves around the legal status of colonial land grants in a given area, a landowners’ association in the area might hire a lawyer to prepare a brief demonstrating the grants’ validity, even though they’re not a party to the lawsuit. And they’re prepared by extremely competent lawyers to provide beneficial background and argumentation that may help the judge(s) decide the case. I believe that many appellate courts have restrictions on who can file amicus briefs regarding a case.

I thought a friend of the court’s brief was a fetishist.


Funniest, briefest joke/pun I’ve ever seen… a headline from the onion (no story, just a headline):

Jurisprudence fetishist gets off on a technicality.

The Onion