Utah Appellate Law Update

Publication year2014
Pages30
Utah Appellate Law Update
Vol. 27 No. 1 Pg. 30
Utah Bar Journal
February, 2014.

January, 2014

PETITIONING THE UTAH SUPREME COURT FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI

Beth E. Kennedy.

A he raw statistics indicate that the chances are relatively slim that the Utah Supreme Court will grant a petition for a writ of certiorari. Since 2008, the Utah Supreme Court has granted only 19% of the petitions that have been filed. Figure 1 shows the percentages by year.

describes some of those differences and offers practical tips for drafting and responding to petitions.

Reasons Why the Utah Supreme Court Will Grant a Petition

To understand how to draft a petition for a writ of certiorari, it is

FIGURE 1

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013 to date

1 Petitions Filed

122

116

102

108

113

114

Petitions Granted

27

22

27

11

18

21

1 % Granted

22%

19%

26%

10%

16%

18%

And even if a petitioner persuades the Utah Supreme Court to grant the petition, there is no guarantee that the petitioner ultimately will persuade the Utah Supreme Court to reverse the Utah Court of Appeals' opinion. The Utah Supreme Court has not issued opinions in all of the cases for which it granted certiorari review since 2008. But of those cases it has decided, it granted relief to the petitioners on the merits only 43% of the time. Figure 2 shows the percentages by year.

While these numbers seem daunting, they are not prohibitive. A petitioner who keeps in mind the purpose and function of a petition can increase the chances that the Utah Supreme Court will grant the petition and review the Utah Court of Appeals' opinion.

To prepare an effective petition, it is important to understand the ways in which drafting a petition for a writ of certiorari differs from drafting an appellate brief. Although the audience is an appellate court for both a petition and a brief, the court has a different objective in reviewing each document. This article important to understand its purpose. On the most fundamental level, a petition provides the Utah Supreme Court an opportunity to review an opinion issued by the Utah Court of Appeals. But this review is "not a matter of right, " and the Utah Supreme Court will not grant a petition simply because the Utah Court of Appeals erred. Utah R. App. P. 46(a). Instead, a petitioner must convince the Utah Supreme Court that there are "special and important reasons" that require the Utah Supreme Court to exercise its discretion to review the Utah Court of Appeals' opinion. Id.

Rule 46(a) lists four of these reasons. They suggest that the supreme

FIGURE 2

2008

...

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