What is the effect of denying petition for certiorari by the Supreme Court of the United States?

What happens when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) denies a Petition for Certiorari by the Supreme Court of the United States? In short, the original Courts of Appeals decision stands as the final decision. Denying Petitions for Certiorari affects the parties, but it does not necessarily impact other cases. SCOTUS is choosing not to set a precedent for future cases. If you still have questions about the effects of denying Petition for Certiorari on your case and would like to file an appeal, call the toll free number above to speak with an attorney.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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A “Petition for Writ Certiorari” is a formal, written request for the Supreme Court to review a lower court’s ruling.

What is the denial of a Petition for Certiorari?

The denial of a Petition for Certiorari (aka Cert Petition) by the Supreme Court in a federal case means the decision of the Court of Appeals stands as the final decision. This does not mean that the Supreme Court agrees or disagrees with the decision of the Court of Appeals, only that the case will not be reviewed. In short, they’re taking a neutral position. Denial has an obvious impact on the current case. SCOTUS is specifically choosing not to set a legal precedent in future cases.

The Supreme Court of the United States receives over 5000 Petitions of Certiorari annually. Of those cases, they accept 100. The Supreme Court has the discretion to hear written and oral arguments only for cases they deem appropriate.

Constitutionally, those involved in the lawsuit are each entitled to one appeal, which is handled at the District Appeals Court level. After that, the decision is considered a representation of current law. The Supreme Court denies most appeals because the court has no desire to change the interpretation of modern law. The Supreme Court agrees to hear cases that address either novel issues or issues that the court believes require additional guidance. In other words, if the current interpretation of the Court is not in agreement with the United States Constitution, then the case will most likely go to the Supreme Court.

While a denial may be a hard pill to swallow, especially if you are on the wrong end of an expensive lawsuit, remember that the current law is not always in agreement with our sense of fairness. A lawyer can provide guidance on the best path to take and an estimate of your chances. If you’re filing a Petition for Certiorari, one of the best things you can do is get an experienced appeals attorney. Your trial lawyer is an expert in getting your case off the ground. Appeals are a completely different ballgame whether you’re at the state or federal level. You significantly improve your chances of acceptance (and success) by choosing the appropriate representative before you apply for appellate review.

If you have recently been through the circuit court of appeals and were dissatisfied with the judgment, it’s natural to want to appeal. Part of the battle is proving something was done improperly during the original trial. If you were given a jury trial with qualified legal representation and a judge who followed applicable laws, any appeal is unlikely to succeed. It’s an appeals attorney’s job to evaluate the case and make the case that something was not properly done before the entry of judgment.

If you still have questions about Petition for Certiorari, would like to continue with an appeal, or have questions regarding your next steps as a litigant, contact an appeals attorney.

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