Supreme Court of the United States


Established in 1789, the U.S. Supreme Court is the court of last resort. The Court is composed of nine justices, the Chief Justice and eight associate justices.


A party who wants the Supreme Court to review a Massachusetts state court decision must file a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court. This is a request that the Supreme Court order a lower court to sent up the record of the case for review. A minimum of four of the nine justices is required to grant a writ of certiorari, referred to as the "rule of four."


Supreme Court of the United States

Several avenues of relief are available from the petition for writ of certiorari. The case can be accepted in the Supreme Court upon the vote of four justices. The Court can "grant" certiorari, "vacate" the decision below, and "remand" the case to the lower court without hearing oral argument or deciding the case on the merits. This is called "GVR," which remands the case to the lower court for reconsideration in light of an intervening ruling. The Court may also affirm, reverse, or dismiss the lower court's judgment with the vote of five justices. The denial of a petition for writ of certiorari is merely a gatekeeper decision, not an opinion on the merits of the case.


There is no substitute for a fully researched and well-written petition for certiorari. Drafting a petition for certiorari requires significant time, expertise, and attention to detail. Is your case "cert worthy"? Call Appellate Attorney Driscoll (978-846-5184) to find out, before it is too late.