The Clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court is required by Rule 14.5 not to docket those petitions for writ of certiorari that do “not comply with the substance of [the] Rules.” The Clerk can reject and return documents that are not in the proper format, are illegible or missing required sections, or have omitted the proper lower court opinions, orders or judgments that the Supreme Court is being asked to review (Rule 14.1 establishes the required sections of a petition). If it is determined that such a petition was submitted timely and in good faith, the Clerk will return it with a letter indicating the deficiencies and the time period (typically 60 days after the rejection) within which to resubmit the petition. Petitioners who are denied in forma pauperis (IFP) status may also be allowed to resolve any deficiencies and resubmit their petitions (a guide to IFP denials can be found here).
Only a select group of changes may be made to a petition before it is resubmitted to the Court for docketing:
- Table of Contents and Table of Authorities may be changed to reflect new formatting, additions, and omissions.
- Opinions Below and Jurisdiction may be changed to reflect procedural history and the Court’s authority to hear the case.
- Omitted (but mandatory) sections may be inserted (for example, Constitutional Provisions or Statement of the Case).
- Grammatical changes may be made (for example, correcting improper word usage or adding commas after case names).
- Appendix documents required under Rule 14.1 may be added (if not originally included in the petitioner’s filing).
- Appendix documents not required under Rule 14.1 may be omitted.
- Table of Appendices and appendix references in the brief can be changed to reflect additions to the appendix.
It is important to note that the Clerk may not docket a resubmitted petition if a change has been made to the “substance” of that petition. After close communication with the Court, the staff at Cockle have determined that the following alterations constitute a change in “substance”:
- Changes to the Questions Presented (beyond punctuation).
- Changes to the Argument (beyond grammar).
- The citation of new case law.
Petitioners who require assistance in the printing and filing of their resubmitted petitions should send their originally filed documents and deficiency letter from the Court to Cockle Printing in order to begin generating a rule-compliant booklet in time to meet the Court’s updated due date.