Our Take on SCOTUS Conference Lists (“They’re Alive!”)
November 9, 2011
The U.S. Supreme Court notes on its public docket pages that a petition has been circulated for a particular upcoming conference. An entry that says something like, “DISTRIBUTED for conference of November 10, 2011″ lets counsel know to worry about particular orders lists that follow conferences — and worry they do. This sense of urgency also creates a nice time window for local media to write about petitions that have a local angle, which they also do.
Looking Back: What did the Court just decide?
This week, I rolled out a new feature on CertPool that weaves these entries together into a more comprehensive look at each conference. Here’s the page showing results from the most recent conference: http://certpool.com/conferences/2011-11-04.
You can quickly see the new grants of certiorari and the CVSG, as well as which cases survived long enough for the Court to request a brief in opposition (BIO) from the respondent. Less obviously, you can see which cases have been redistributed for later conferences, as well as a few cases that seem to have fallen off the conveyor belt with no disposition yet. (Keep an eye on those innocent-looking entries. In my local Texas practice, cases that linger without a grant or a denial are often candidates for per curiam or other summary disposition.)
The Court circulates petitions for conference about a month in advance. So, I have been able to build the same sort of list for the next handful of upcoming conferences, showing which cases have already received response requests or have been re-listed for the next conference (this Thursday): http://certpool.com/conferences/2011-11-10.
These columns can be resorted to focus on what matters to you. (Just click on the headers.) For example, the “Response on File?” column helps distinguish the petitions that are legitimate candidates for a full grant from those merely hoping that the Court requests a response to keep them alive.
How Quickly Are the Lists Updated?
The answer is, “As soon as the Supreme Court lists these events on each case’s docket page.” If this past Monday is any guide, that should mean they are reported the same day the orders lists are released.
Other Changes to Our Site
As you dig into the site, you may notice some other changes. Among other things, I’ve redone the pages that show you “denied or disposed” cases from each jurisdiction this term. They are now in dynamic tables, much like the conference lists. I’ve also added a navigation toolbar at the top of each page. As new features are ready, they will take their rightful places there.
Please let me know if you see something that looks broken, or if there’s a question you have that isn’t answered by the site.