Monday, January 27, 2014

Please support SCOTUS Petition for Rehearing 13-7280; Stop a wrongful HECM foreclosure of my home

My home wrongly in foreclosure
Petition for rehearing filed February 7, 2014
Hello, I am asking for support to save my home from wrongful foreclosure on a HECM reverse mortgage. I am not a lawyer, just an ordinary person representing myself pro se. Opposing counsel is foreclosure mill McCalla Raymer LLC, representing Reverse Mortgage Solutions, Inc. Defending foreclosure is costly in the Supreme Court, even when appearing in forma pauperis. My UPS invoices total $1,891.22 for the last three months.

Any donation is appreciated; excess donations will go toward ongoing expenses, such as, a case of paper ($29), copy machine toner ($50), a replacement drum ($41), inkjet printer cartridges ($38 a pair), a process server ($25) or $50 expedited, or computer repairs ($60 hr.). Donations can be made on GoFundMe crowd funding. GoFundMe is explained in this YouTube video.

Neil J. Gillespie v. Reverse Mortgage Solutions, Inc. et al
Petition No. 13-7280 for rehearing, U.S. Supreme Court

My petition was denied January 13, 2014. Rule 44 allows a petition for rehearing within 25 days, which I believe is February 7, 2014. If my petition for rehearing is denied, the district court suggested in its remand order that I may sue the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in a separate action. NOTE: Petition for rehearing filed February 7, 2014

"This Order should not be interpreted as a ruling concerning whether, or to what extent, Mr. Gillespie can sue HUD in a separate action. Rather, this Order is limited to whether the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the specific action that has been removed to this Court". - Senior U.S. Judge Wm. Terrell Hodges, Order Remanding Case, March 7, 2013. [fn1, p.4] 

STATEMENT OF THE CASE, page 6, Petition No. 13-7280

My name is Neil Gillespie, the petitioner reluctantly appearing pro se [fn1], henceforth in the first person, age 57, a law-abiding, indigent, disabled single man, a surviving "reverse" mortgage borrower [fn2], and homeowner in a 55+ community in Ocala Florida. This petition is to save my home from a disputed foreclosure [fn3] of a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage [fn4] or HECM, a FHA [fn5] "reverse" mortgage program administered by the Secretary, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (Secretary or HUD). My home’s value is $74,730 and falling. The mortgage payoff balance is $114,889. The property is "underwater" by $40,159. A HECM cannot be refinanced. A ruling January 4, 2013 in Bennett v. Donovan held in part (PDF):

"HUD itself has the capability to provide complete relief to the lenders and mortgagors alike, which eliminates the uncertainty of third-party action that would otherwise block standing."

I bear witness to the "uncertainty of third-party action", which here includes political persecution by The Florida Bar, U.S. Judge William Terrell Hodges, and Florida attorneys Ryan Christopher Rodems and Eugene P. Castagliuolo, in retaliation for my Petition No. 12-7747 for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court that sought better regulation of the legal profession, and redress of grievances with Mr. Rodems’ law firm. Current political persecution of me includes: 

1.     The Florida Bar for an open investigation of me for Unlicensed Practice of Law (UPL).
2.     Mr. Rodems made the UPL complaint against me for representing myself & my interests. 
3.     Judge Hodges corruptly assisted McCalla Raymer in a wrongfully foreclosure of my home.
4.     Mr. Castagliuolo’ ongoing threats to interfere with my Social Security disability income.

A HECM does not require a homeowner to make mortgage payments as a conventional mortgage does. Instead, a HECM does not become due and payable until the last surviving homeowner dies or no longer lives in the home. 12 U.S.C. § 1715-z20(j) Safeguard to prevent displacement of homeowner. The HECM becomes due and payable in full "if a mortgagor dies and the property is not the principal residence of at least one surviving mortgagor....and no other mortgagor retains title to the property." 24 C.F.R. § 206.27(c).

I am one of two surviving HECM mortgagors, and the only surviving homeowner living in the home, alone, in substantial compliance with the HECM Note, making this foreclosure of a HECM premature. My bother Mark Gillespie of Fort Worth Texas is also a surviving borrower, but he does not live in the home. The HECM becomes due and payable in full "if a mortgagor dies and the property is not the principal residence of at least one surviving mortgagor....and no other mortgagor retains title to the property." 24 C.F.R. § 206.27(c). Mortgagor Ms. Gillespie died in 2009.

But I am a surviving borrower or mortgagor living in the home as my principal residence, and retain title to the property. Therefore I dispute the Plaintiff’s allegations in its "Verified Complaint to Foreclose Home Equity Conversion Mortgage". (Doc. 2). That means a substantial disputed issue of federal HECM law is a necessary element of the Plaintiff’s state law foreclosure claim that this HECM is due and payable. The district court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and the U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 2 for "all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, [and] the laws of the United States...". (Doc. 18, page 2).

Fed. R. Civ. Pro 13(g) permits a crossclaim by one party, me, against a coparty, HUD, "if the claim arises out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the original action or of a counterclaim, or if the claim relates to any property that is the subject matter of the original action." My home is property that is the subject matter of the original action. The Plaintiff’s Complaint (Doc. 2) is an in rem action against my home (Doc. 1,  par.1, par.15) my primary residence (Doc. 5,  2, 6, 9, 20, 118, ) and homestead. (Doc. 9).

Also see my Motion to Reconsider, Vacate or Modify Order filed July 2, 2013 in the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-11585-B. Most of the pleadings are posted on Scribd, including my Notice of Removal, the foreclosure complaint, my motion to dismiss and exhibits, and complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), parts one, two and three.

Treaties of the United States, affidavits and appeal to the United Nations

My affidavit to the United Nations shows I have a well-founded fear of political persecution.

My Urgent Appeal to the United Nations seeks an observer and protection from political persecution in the United States. The Florida Bar is a cross-party for political persecution in Petition No. 13-7280 and is represented by Bridget Smitha of Greenberg & Traurig, P.A. Separately I asked former President Jimmy Carter for an observer under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which I learned about through his article, U.S. Finally Ratifies Human Rights Covenant, on the Carter Center website.

Ethics Investigation of Attorney General Pam Bondi 
The Florida Commission on Ethics opened investigations for Misuse of Public Position, F.S. § 112.313(6) on December 17, 2013 against Attorney General Pam Bondi and others (the complaints were dismissed as not legally sufficient; no factual investigation was done), who conspired with Respondent David A. Rowland, General Counsel for Respondent Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Florida, and other Respondents and non-respondents, in Petition No. 12-7747. My affidavit to the United Nations shows fraud or impairment of Petition No. 12-7747, a legitimate government activity, 18 U.S.C. § 371, a conspiracy against my rights, 18 U.S.C. § 241, to deprive me of rights under color of law, 18 U.S.C. § 242.

 Request for an investigation of fraud or impairment of Petition No. 12-7747

Jan-10-2014, Dear Sen. Nelson, Sen. Rubio, AUSA Bentley, AUSA Handberg, Marshal Berger...

This is a request for an investigation of fraud or impairment of Petition No. 12-7747 for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court....In 2001 the Florida Attorney General intervened in Neil Gillespie v. ACE Cash Express, Inc. citing Florida RICO jurisdiction. Roger B. Handberg, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Economic Crimes Division, appeared for the AG and got a $500,000 settlement for Florida. Mr. Handberg was present June 12, 2002 at a mediation in Tampa and knew I was not satisfied with Barker, Rodems & Cook (BRC) who represented me. On or about May 22, 2002 I more

Florida Commission on Human Relations

Jodi Jones, Regulatory Specialist, Governor Rick Scott
Florida Commission on Human Relations
December 31, 2013

....My complaint alleged violations of constitutional civil rights and disability rights... F.S. § 760.51 Violations of constitutional rights, civil action by the Attorney General; civil penalty. Here, the Attorney General, part of the Executive Branch, wrongly conspired with the
Judicial Branch (Fla. Const. Art. II, Sec. 3, branches of govt. ) to obstruct justice and violate my constitutional civil rights and disability rights. My complaint includes 21 parties, not just the Attorney General, see the attached complaint. The Florida Bar has opened two inquires:

1. The Florida Bar File No. 2014-30,525 (9A), for Danielle Nicole Parsons, Bar ID 29364.
2. Unlicensed Practice of Law Investigation of Yolanda I. Martinez, Case No. 20143031(9A).

The Florida Commission on Ethics gave notice December 17, 2013 of seven complaints for
Misuse of Public Position, § 112.313(6) F.S. I hereby waive confidentiality, see attached:
(the complaints were dismissed as not legally sufficient; no factual investigation was done).

Complaint No. 13-201, Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General of Florida, Executive Branch
Complaint No. 13-202, Diana R. Esposito, Chief Asst. Attorney General, Executive Branch
Complaint No. 13-203, Kenneth V. Wilson, Asst. Attorney General, Executive Branch
Complaint No. 13-204, Valerie Williford, Employee of Attorney General, Executive Branch
Complaint No. 13-205, Laura Martin, Employee of Attorney General, Executive Branch
Complaint No. 13-206, David Rowland, Gen. Counsel, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Judicial Branch
Complaint No. 13-207, Sandra Burge, paralegal, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Judicial Branch

Therefore, the Florida Commission on Human Relations should ask the Governor to appoint
another person to perform such duty in the Attorney General’s stead as provided by F.S. §16.02.
This letter to Governor Scott also requests appointment of another person under F.S. §16.02.

F.S. § 16.02 Appointment of person to act in case of disability of Attorney General.—
In case of the disability of the Attorney General to perform any official duty devolving on him or
her, by reason of interest or otherwise, the Governor or Attorney General of this state may
appoint another person to perform such duty in the Attorney General’s more

National Business Report, Reverse Mortgage Risk (6/4/13)
Interview with homeowner Robert Bennett


Congressman Elijah Cummings
U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

McCalla Raymer LLC, a notorious foreclosure mill cited in a letter by U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings to Steve Linick, Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, asking for an "investigation into widespread allegations of abuse by private attorneys and law firms hired to process foreclosures as part of the "Retained Attorney Network" established by Fannie Mae." Congressman Cummings wrote this about McCalla Raymer, LLC:

"Another firm in the Retained Attorney Network, McCalla Raymer, L.L.C., is a defendant in a federal lawsuit in which the plaintiffs allege that it engaged in fraud, racketeering, and the manufacture of fraudulent foreclosure documents. Reportedly, this firm established operations in Florida under the name Stone, McGehee & Silver and hired ten former Stern law firm employees. The firm Stone, McGehee and Silver, LLC, dba McCalla Raymer currently appears as a "Designated Counsel/Trustee" in Florida for Freddie Mac."

McCalla Raymer, LLC was also sued in the following federal lawsuits of which I am aware:

Muradas et al v. M&T Bank, RMS, 0.13-cv-60178-RSR
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
Caceres v. McCalla Raymer, LLC, 1.13-cv-20035
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
Jenkins et al v. McCalla Raymer, LLC et al, 1:10-cv-03732-CAP
U.S. District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
Marcia Moore v McCalla Raymer, LLC, 1:12-CV-1714-TWT
U.S. District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
Thompson-El v. Bank of America, et al, case no. 1:12-CV-840-TWT
U.S. District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

For more on Congressman Cummings' letter and Florida foreclosure mills, see Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, FHFA-OIG on the Justice Network

Florida foreclosure defense attorney Matt Weidner says the banks are destroying America. Watch his impassioned plea for people to take notice and get involved in fighting for our country against special interests. Foreclosure Is Financial Terrorism, Is it also Treason?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Judge Posner says SCOTUS not a real court

Judge Richard Posner - Photo by Nathan Weber/The New York Times, via Redux
Posner has ‘absolutely no desire’ to join SCOTUS, which ‘isn’t a real court’
ABA Journal Law News Now
By Debra Cassens Weiss
November 11, 2013

Judge Richard Posner gets a lot of attention for his opinions and his writing, but he’s not looking to leverage his fame to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

Posner explained why he isn’t interested in an interview with the Daily Beast about his compulsive writing habits. "First, I’m too old," Posner said. "I’m 74 and they don’t appoint people my age."

The reviewer notes that Posner sounds "peppy," spurring the Chicago-based federal appeals judge to elaborate.

"Well, I don’t like the Supreme Court," Posner says. "I don’t think it’s a real court. I think of it as basically ... it’s like a House of Lords. It’s a quasi-political body. President, Senate, House of Representatives, Supreme Court. It’s very political. And they decide which cases to hear, which doesn’t strike me as something judges should do. You should take what comes. When you decide which case to hear it means you’ve decided the cases ahead of time.

"Also, because I’m a compulsive writer, I like to write. ... If you sit with eight other people [like the Supreme Court] you only get one-ninth of the cases to write. I’m not interested in that. Now the Supreme Court justices write very, very few majority opinions. Last year they saw 74 cases. Divide that by nine and that’s a little more than eight opinions a year. That’s ridiculous! I write around 90 opinions a year."

Posner says Supreme Court justices do boost their totals through dissenting and concurring opinions, but they don't attract much interest. "I just wouldn’t enjoy the Supreme Court," Posner says. "Absolutely no desire to be on it."

Posner also reveals in the interview that he works from home at least half the time, and one reason is his cat, Pixie. "I’m a very big cat person," Posner says. Pixie is affectionate and "her little face falls" if Posner or his wife leaves the house. "The cat wants us at home," he says. Read more

ABA Journal: Supreme Court Approval Rating Drops to 25-Year Low (PDF)

Can Congress impose ethics rules on the US Supreme Court?
ABA Journal Law News Now
by Martha Neil
August 5, 2013

A group of Democratic lawmakers has reintroduced a bill that would require those who sit on the nation's top court to comply with the same ethics rules that apply to other federal judges.

Under the Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2013, supreme court justices would be prohibited from political activity and fundraising, among other conduct that could cast doubt on their impartiality, according to the Blog of Legal Times and the Huffington Post.

Although members of the Supreme Court have said they look to the ethics rules that apply to other federal judges for guidance, they are not required to follow them.

"If the code of conduct applied to the Supreme Court, much if not all of what we believe are questionable behavior wouldn't have taken place," U.S. Rep.Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said at a press conference last week. "Because the code sets forth very simple rules such as no political activity, we think that’s very important, no fundraising, and a necessity to avoid even the appearance of impropriety."

It isn't clear, however, how the standards would be enforced, if they are adopted, and a post on Josh Blackman's Blog questions how the legislative branch can constitutionally regulate the conduct of the judiciary.

In his 2011 end-of-year report, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who has declined to voluntarily adopt the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, set forth his apparent position, the blog notes.

"The Code of Conduct, by its express terms, applies only to lower federal court judges," Roberts wrote. "That reflects a fundamental difference between the Supreme Court and the other federal courts. Article III of the Constitution creates only one court, the Supreme Court of the United States, but it empowers Congress to establish additional lower federal courts that the Framers knew the country would need. Congress instituted the Judicial Conference for the benefit of the courts it had created. Because the Judicial Conference is an instrument for the management of the lower federal courts, its committees have no mandate to prescribe rules or standards for any other body." Read more

Reflections on Judging, Richard A. Posner, author
Harvard University Press

In Reflections on Judging, Richard Posner distills the experience of his thirty-one years as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Surveying how the judiciary has changed since his 1981 appointment, he engages the issues at stake today, suggesting how lawyers should argue cases and judges decide them, how trials can be improved, and, most urgently, how to cope with the dizzying pace of technological advance that makes litigation ever more challenging to judges and lawyers. Read more

How I Write: Richard Posner
The Daily Beast
By Noah Charney
November 7, 2013

America’s most cited legal scholar, Judge Richard Posner, talks about his compulsive writing, what’s guaranteed to make him laugh, and his passion for cats.

Describe your morning routine.

I don’t really have any routines. Well, if I’m at home or in the office I have a desk and a computer. And I write. I’ve never thought in terms of any particular routine. There are a lot of interruptions, emails and so on. Whenever I have free time, I write. Judicial opinions or academic stuff. I don’t have any quota of words. I understand full-time novelists, say, they will want to do a certain amount of words a day in order to finish a book. Often it’s the same type of day, the same writing instruments. I’m not at all like that. I have to give priority to my judicial work, so when I write an opinion or when I’m editing, I always do my judicial work first. Read more

Richard A. Posner’s ‘Reflections on Judging’
The New York Times, Holding Court
November 8, 2013

In a famous passage in Marbury v. Madison, the 1803 case establishing the power of judicial review, Chief Justice John Marshall observed that the question of whether an act inconsistent with the Constitution could stand "is a question deeply interesting to the United States, but, happily, not of an intricacy proportioned to its interest." Two hundred and ten years later, another eminent jurist has turned to questions whose intricacy matches — or exceeds — their interest. "Reflections on Judging" by Richard A. Posner, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, is about what judges should do when confronted with complexity. Like the rest of us, judges face an increasingly bewildering world, marked by daily advances in such areas as social media, the sciences and globalization. Unlike the rest of us, judges must make decisions that enforce their understanding — or misunderstanding — of that complexity onto millions. In its organization, this is a simple book. Posner recognizes that awesome charge: he decries one common response to complexity, and endorses more

Dennis Jacobs, The Secret Life of Judges, 75 Fordham L. Rev. 2855 (2007). Excerpts, An Ambient Bias

When I refer to the secret life of judges, I am speaking of an inner turn of mind that favors, empowers, and enables our profession and our brothers and sisters at the bar. It is secret, because it is unobserved and therefore unrestrained-by the judges themselves or by the legal community that so closely surrounds and nurtures us. It is an ambient bias.  (par. 3, p. 2856)

I sometimes think that the problem at bottom is really a lack of respect by lawyers for other people. Judges live chiefly in a circle of lawyers. But outside that circle there are people who are just as fully absorbed by other pursuits that deserve consideration and respect. Judges need a heightened respect for how nonlawyers solve problems, reach compromises, broker risks, and govern themselves and their institutions. There are lawyers on the one hand; and just about everybody else is the competition in the framing of values and standards of behavior. (par. 4-5, page 2861)

The legal mind is indispensable to lawyering, and for other purposes it is perfectly okay in its way. But it has its limitations. For example, every problem-solving profession-except ours--quickly adopts as preferred the solution that is simplest, cheapest, and most efficacious, or (as they say) elegant... (par. 5, p. 2862)

As a matter of self-awareness and conscience, judges should accept that the legal mind is not the best policy instrument, and that lawyer-driven processes and lawyer-centered solutions can be unwise, insufficient, and unjust, even if our friends and colleagues in the legal profession lead us that way. For the judiciary, this would mean a reduced role, but not a diminished one if the judiciary is elevated by considerations of honor, self-restraint, and respect for other influences. (last par., p. 2863) Read more, NYT PDF

What’s So Special About Judges? 61 University of Colorado Law Review 773 (1990), Frank H. Easterbrook

Article III of the Constitution says that the "judicial Power of the United States" belongs to the Supreme Court and such "inferior" courts as Congress chooses to establish. It tells us that judges may resolve "Cases" and "Controversies" and that Congress may make "Exceptions" to and "Regulations" of the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction. And it says that federal judges hold office during "good Behavior." That is a spare mandate. The Constitution does not identify the scope of the "judicial Power" or spell out what "Behavior" is "good."

Article III does not mention the power that has come to be synonymous with the judiciary in popular, political, and academic minds: to set aside statutes and regulations that do not comport with the Constitution and to direct other political actors to implement the judges' constitutional vision. Such a power of review was not granted; it was inferred. 

It was not inferred because of any attribute unique to judges. Under the Supremacy Clause, the Constitution binds the states; the President takes a special oath to uphold the Constitution; every political actor owes an obligation to put the Constitution (the "supreme Law of the Land") first, a statute’ or regulation second, and his private conception of The Good third.[fn1]. Nothing in the text of the Constitution marks a special role for judges; each public official applies the Constitution when it is time to act.... 

Judges apply well only rules that they have internalized. They do not have time to start anew on each case, and the variance from judge to judge would be intolerable if they did. Constitutional scholarship does not much influence judges, because unlike chemists who pore over professional journals, judges do not read the law reviews. [p 11/782] Read more

Judicial Immunity vs. Due Process: When Should a Judge Be Subject to Suit? Robert Craig Walters, Cato Journal, Vol.7, No.2 (Fall 1987) The author was Judicial Clerk to Justice Rosemary Barkett of the Florida Supreme Court.

In the American judicial system, few more serious threats to individual liberty can be imagined than a corrupt judge. Clothed with the power of the state and authorized to pass judgment on the most basic aspects of everyday life, a judge can deprive citizens of liberty and property in complete disregard of the Constitution. The injuries inflicted may be severe and enduring.

Friday, January 17, 2014

More Cert Pool - US Supreme Court

Justice Harry A. Blackmun
Information on Case Selection, Cert Pool Memoranda
Digital Archive of the Papers of Harry A. Blackmun

Lee Epstein, Provost Professor of Law and Political Science
Rader Family Trustee Chair in Law

Each term the Supreme Court receives over 7,000 requests for review, most of them petitions for writs of certiorari ("cert"). And, each term, the justices reject roughly 99 percent of these requests, meaning that they hear and decide (grant "cert") less than 100 cases.

The 7,000 or so petitions face several checkpoints along the way, which significantly reduce the amount of time the Court, acting as a collegial body, spends on deciding what to decide. The staff members in the office of the Supreme Court clerk act as the first gatekeepers. When a petition for certiorari arrives, the clerk's office examines it to make sure it is in proper form, that it conforms to the Court's precise rules. For example, briefs must "be produced on paper that is opaque, unglazed, and not less than 60 pounds in weight, and shall have margins of at least three fourths of an inch on all sides." Exceptions are made for litigants who cannot afford to pay the Court's fees. The rules governing these petitions, known as in forma pauperis briefs, are somewhat looser, allowing, for example, indigents to submit briefs on 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper. The clerk's office gives all acceptable petitions an identification number, called a "docket number," and forwards copies to the chambers of the individual justices.

 Each justice reviews the petitions, making independent decisions about which cases he or she feels are worthy of a full hearing. Eight of the nine justice use the "certiorari pool" in which clerks from different chambers collaborate in reading and then writing memoranda on the petition. (Only Justice Alito does not participate in the pool.)

BlackmunDocket 93-1543-Cert-Pool-All-12p
BlackmunDocket May31-1994-Cert-Pool-Discuss-List
BlackmunDocket 93-1251-Cert-Pool-vote
BlackmunDocket 93-1546-Cert-Pool-vote
BlackmunDocket 93-1636-Cert-Pool-vote

Justice Sonia Sotomayor
The Cert Pool: Sotomayor Joins It, Lawyers Attack It
Blog of Legal Times
September 21, 2009

As expected, new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has joined the Court's so-called cert pool, at least for now.

Court public information officer Kathy Arberg confirmed that Sotomayor is participating in the controversial pooling arrangement, whereby the thousands of incoming certiorari petitions are divvied up among the clerks of the justices who participate. Each petition is read by one of the pool clerks, who writes a memo recommending whether to grant review. The memo is then distributed to the justices in the pool, with the memo often constituting the only morsel of information about the case that the justices read before deciding whether to grant or deny cert.

Because of the pivotal role the pool memo plays, the cert pool has been criticized for giving individual clerks have too much power in the all-important gatekeeping function. The pool, aimed at streamlining the petition review process, was first instituted in 1972.

At her confirmation hearing in July, Sotomayor was asked her intentions regarding the pool. It was clear she had already given it some thought, and she indicated then that "my approach may be similar to Justice Alito's." Samuel Alito Jr. joined the pool when he joined the Court in 2006, but he jumped out after the 2007-2008 term. In an interview last October, Alito told us  that he "just wanted to see what it would be like" to quit the pool and screen petitions in his own chambers. So far, he was pleased. Alito thus became the second justice on the current Court -- the other is John Paul Stevens -- to stay out of the pool. Read more

The SCOTUS Cert Pool – A Basic Introduction
Fire Dog Lake, By Crane-Station, September 6, 2012 ______________________________________________________________________

Elena Kagan
Kagan and the Cert Pool: Should She Jump In?
Above the Law
By David Lat
June 8, 2010

The confirmation hearings for Solicitor General Elena Kagan, nominated to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, are currently scheduled to start on Monday, June 28... But most observers expect little confirmation drama...Last month, Columbia law professor Jamal Greene raised the cert pool issue on the NYT’s Room for Debate blog. Read more

Jamal Green
Room For Debate: What Kagan Will Bring to the Court 
The New York Times
by Jamal Greene

A Balance to Justice Alito

One of the most important (and least sexy) ways in which a future Justice Kagan could influence the Supreme Court is in her decision whether to join the "cert pool." Unlike a lower court, the Supreme Court generally chooses which cases it decides to hear. Currently, the clerks for seven of the nine Justices "pool" the applications for certiorari and share a single memo for each petition, with the work split among the clerks.

The cert pool has been criticized (correctly, in my view) for discouraging the clerks from sticking their necks out to call the Justices’ attention to certain petitions. Justice Stevens never joined the pool, which means that each and every one of the 8,000-plus petitions the Court receives every year is read by someone in his chambers.

If Elena Kagan does not follow Justice Stevens’s example, it would leave Justice Alito as the only justice whose clerks read every petition. That would upset what I regard as a healthy liberal-conservative balance among the chambers not participating. Even if a Justice Kagan were identical to Justice Stevens on every decision, she could still have an important impact on which cases are heard. Read more

Jamal Greene, is an associate professor at Columbia Law School and a former clerk for Justice John Paul Stevens.

A Second Justice Opts Out of a Longtime Custom: The ‘Cert. Pool’
The New York Times
September 25, 2008

WASHINGTON — Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. is getting out of the pool.

For almost 20 years, eight of the nine justices on the Supreme Court have assigned their law clerks to a shared legal labor pool that streamlines the work of reviewing incoming cases.

Only Justice John Paul Stevens has declined to participate. He relies on his own clerks to help cull perhaps 80 worthy cases from the thousands of appeals, called petitions for certiorari, that reach the court each year. The justices who participate in the arrangement, known around the court as the "cert. pool," receive a common "pool memo" on each case from a single clerk. The memo analyzes the petition and makes a recommendation about whether it should be granted.

Justice Alito has said nothing publicly about his decision to exit the pool. His move was confirmed by Kathleen Arberg, the court’s public information officer.

Students of the court say there are costs and benefits to relying on pool memos, which are prepared by smart but relatively inexperienced law clerks.

"The benefit is efficiency," said David R. Stras, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who has studied the subject and reviewed many of the pool memorandums released with Justice Harry A. Blackmun’s papers. The pool, he said, avoids the time-consuming duplication of efforts that would result from having a clerk in each justice’s chambers consider every petition.

But the pool system "does put enormous influence and power in a single clerk," Professor Stras said, adding, "I’m quite sure there are cases that fall through the cracks." Read more

Roberts and Alito, Skinnydipping in the Cert Pool
Above the Law
by David Lat
September 21, 2006

From the same Tony Mauro column that discussed Chief Justice Roberts’s new summer house comes this update on the SCOTUS cert pool:

[T]he Supreme Court’s two newest justices have decided, at least temporarily, to stick with the Court’s clerk-pooling arrangement…. [B]oth Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito Jr. said they will stay in the "cert pool," as it is called, for the current term.

    Roberts said he will participate on a "year-to-year basis," and Alito said the same….

The use of the certiorari pool does, by the way, increase the power of law clerks at the Court:

In a 1997 speech when he was in private practice, Roberts said he found the pool "disquieting" in that it made clerks "a bit too significant" in determining the Court’s docket. During his confirmation hearings in January, Alito said he was "aware of the issue" surrounding the pool. He added: "We cannot delegate our judicial responsibility. But . . . we need to find ways, and we do find ways, of obtaining assistance from clerks and staff, employees, so that we can deal with the large caseload that we have."

One could quibble with Justice Alito’s description of the SCOTUS caseload as "large." The Court hears fewer than 100 cases each Term, and the number has been decreasing over the years. And the cert pool may actually be contributing to that decline, as Lyle Denniston suggests.
But we heart Justice Alito, so we won’t quibble.

Another consequence of the pool:

In their new book on the Court’s clerks, Sorcerers’ Apprentices, authors Artemus Ward and David Weiden chart the history and impact of the pool. At the same time the pool has increased the power of clerks in the gatekeeping function, they say, it has made clerks less candid and more timid in their recommendations. "The pool writers are going to be less candid than they would be with their own justice," says Ward in an interview. "It has a chilling effect."

It would be interesting if another justice were to join Justice Stevens in declining to participate in the cert pool. But would that make a clerkship with that justice less desirable? Clerks to that justice would have to spend more of their time doing mind-numbing cert review work, getting down into the factual weeds of lower-court records — instead of working on the sexy, pure legal issues presented by merits cases.

Maybe there’s a collective action problem here. Who would be willing to go first? Read more

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, FHFA-OIG

IG Michael P. Stephens
Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)
Office of Inspector General (OIG)

Michael P. Stephens, Principal Deputy Inspector General
and Acting Inspector General

The FHFA OIG is established by law to provide independent and objective reporting to the FHFA Director, Congress, and the American people through its audit and investigative activities.

FHFA OIG’s mission is to promote the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of FHFA’s programs; to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse in FHFA’s programs; and to seek sanctions and prosecutions against those who are responsible for such fraud, waste, and abuse.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 established an Office of Inspector General (OIG) within the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). The Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, sets forth the functions and authorities of the FHFA OIG.

Note: Steve A. Linick was appointed as the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors in September 2013. Prior to this appointment, he served for three years as the first Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (2010-2013). As Inspector General, Mr. Linick is the senior official responsible for audits, inspections, investigations, and other law enforcement efforts to combat fraud, waste, and abuse within or affecting the operations of the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Read more on

Rep. Cummings
U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings, Maryland's 7th District, is a
Ranking Member of the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, see Wikipedia here and here

McCalla Raymer LLC is one foreclosure mill cited in a letter by U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings to Steve Linick, Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, asking for an "investigation into widespread allegations of abuse by private attorneys and law firms hired to process foreclosures as part of the "Retained Attorney Network" established by Fannie Mae."

Congressman Cummings cited the following Florida foreclosure firms or processors in his letter,

Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A.
Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson, P.A.
Shapiro & Fishnlan, L.L.P.
McCalla Raymer, L.L.C.
Lender Processing Services, Inc.

The New York Times quoted Congressman Cummings in a statement, "As a member of Congress and an attorney, I find the systemic failures by F.H.F.A. and Fannie Mae to adequately oversee these foreclosure law firms to be a breach of the public trust and an assault on the integrity of our justice system."

Inspector General Linick’s 35 page report refers to a 2006 Report to Fannie Mae of Foreclosure Abuses in Florida,

"In December of 2003, a Fannie Mae shareholder began alerting Fannie Mae to foreclosure abuse allegations, and in 2005 Fannie Mae hired an outside law firm to investigate a variety of allegations regarding purported foreclosure processing abuses. In May 2006, the law firm issued a report of investigation in which it found that:"

"[F]oreclosure attorneys in Florida are routinely filing false pleadings and affidavits…. The practice could be occurring elsewhere. It is axiomatic that the practice is improper and should be stopped. Fannie Mae has not authorized this unlawful conduct."

"Further, the report observed that Fannie Mae did not take steps to ensure the quality of its foreclosure attorneys’ conduct, the legal positions taken in the attorneys’ pleadings, or the manner in which the attorneys processed foreclosures on the Enterprise’s behalf."

Managing partner Robyn Katz of McCalla Raymer is a former attorney employed by the Law Offices of David J. Stern. Mr. Stern has been disbarred, but I am not aware of discipline for his many attorney-accomplices, who include Ms. Katz.

Unfortunately foreclosure mills are not held accountable in any meaningful way in Florida. The Florida Supreme Court disbarred David J. Stern but did impose any meaningful discipline, no fine or penalty, only judgment entered for The Florida Bar "for recovery of costs from David James Stern in the amount of $49,125.02". As divided by the 100,000 foreclosure cases Mr. Stern abandoned, that amounts to 49 cents per case.

Mr. Stern gets to keep a $58.5 million cash windfall for the sale of his back-office document preparation services, according to the Palm Beach Post.

There was no justice for homeowners wrongly foreclosed by David J. Stern Enterprises (DJSE).
There was no Florida Attorney General criminal prosecution of Mr. Stern or DJSE.

Florida Supreme Court gave David J. Stern a sweetheart deal: 49 cents per 100,000 abandoned foreclosure cases, which The Bar’s Referee Nancy Perez wrote "created chaos on the courts of the state of Florida, prejudicing the whole system as a whole." (page 4, Report of Referee SC13-643). Any number of attorneys would gladly consent to disbarment in exchange for a $58.5 million cash windfall regardless of the circumstances.

The Florida Supreme Court Order SC13-643 is an embarrassment to the rule of law, signed "POLSTON, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, CANADY, LABARGA, and PERRY, JJ., concur" who approved a 49 cents per case settlement in the disbarment of Mr. Stern. (Florida Bar Complaint for David J. Stern)

Fannie Mae Knew Early of Abuses, Report Says
The New York Times
October 3, 2011

Fannie Mae, the mortgage finance giant, learned as early as 2003 of extensive foreclosure abuses among the law firms it had hired to remove troubled borrowers from their homes. But the company did little to correct the firms’ practices, according to a report issued Tuesday.

Only after news reports in mid-2010 began to describe the dubious practices, like the routine filing of false pleadings in bankruptcy courts, did Fannie Mae’s overseer start to scrutinize the conduct. The report was critical of that overseer, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and was prepared by the agency’s inspector general.

In one notable lapse, even after the agency reported problems to Fannie Mae in late 2010 about some of the approved law firms, it did not request a response from the company, the report said.

"American homeowners have been struggling with the effects of the housing finance crisis for several years, and they shouldn’t have to worry whether they will be victims of foreclosure abuse," said Steve Linick, inspector general of the finance agency. "Increased oversight by F.H.F.A. could help to prevent these abuses."

The report is the second in two weeks in which the inspector general has outlined lapses at both the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the companies it oversees — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The agency has acted as conservator for the companies since they were taken over by the government in 2008. Its duty is to ensure that their operations do not pose additional risk to the taxpayers who now own them. The companies have tapped the taxpayers to cover mortgage losses totaling about $160 billion.

Elijah E. Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who is the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and who requested the inspector general’s report, said in a statement, "As a member of Congress and an attorney, I find the systemic failures by F.H.F.A. and Fannie Mae to adequately oversee these foreclosure law firms to be a breach of the public trust and an assault on the integrity of our justice system."

The new report from the inspector general tracks Fannie Mae’s dealings with the law firms handling its foreclosures from 1997, when the company created its so-called retained attorney network. At the time, Fannie Mae was a highly profitable and powerful institution, and it devised the legal network to ensure that borrower defaults would be resolved with efficiency and speed.

The law firms in the network agreed to a flat-rate fee structure and pricing model based on the volume of foreclosures they completed. The companies that serviced the loans for Fannie Mae, were supposed to monitor the law firms’ performance and practices, the report noted

After receiving information from a shareholder in 2003 about foreclosure abuses by its law firms, Fannie Mae assigned its outside counsel to investigate, according to the report. That law firm concluded in a 2006 analysis that "foreclosure attorneys in Florida are routinely filing false pleadings and affidavits," and that the practice could be occurring elsewhere. "It is axiomatic that the practice is improper and should be stopped," the law firm said.

The inspector general’s report said that it could not be determined whether Fannie Mae had alerted its regulator, then the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, to the legal improprieties identified by its internal investigation.

Amy Bonitatibus, a Fannie Mae spokeswoman, declined to comment on the inspector general’s report, but said that the 2006 legal analysis identified a specific issue with the practice of filing lost-note affidavits, which the company immediately addressed.

The inspector general said that both Fannie Mae and its regulator appear to have ignored other signs of problems in their foreclosure operations. For example, the Federal Housing Finance Agency did not respond to borrower complaints about improper actions taken by law firms in foreclosures received as early as August 2009, even though foreclosure abuse poses operational and financial risks to Fannie Mae.

Nevertheless, a few months later and just before its takeover by the government, Fannie Mae began requiring the banks that serviced its loans to use only those law firms that were in its network. By then, 140 law firms in 31 jurisdictions were in the group. Among the largest firms in the network was the David J. Stern firm in Plantation, Fla., which was handling more than 75,000 foreclosure actions a year before Fannie Mae terminated it because of vast problems with its legal work.

Finally last fall, after an outcry over apparently forged foreclosure documents and other improprieties, the Federal Housing Finance Agency began investigating the company’s process. In a report issued early this year, it determined that Fannie Mae’s management of its network of lawyers did not meet safety and soundness standards. Among the reasons: the company’s controls to prevent or detect foreclosure abuses were inadequate, as was the company’s monitoring of the law firms. "If a law firm self-reported no issues as it processed cases," the inspector general said, "then Fannie Mae presumed the firm was doing a good job."

The agency is still deciding how to handle the lawyer network, the inspector general said.

Mr. Cummings has asked the federal housing agency to consider terminating the program.

Officials at the housing agency agreed, however, with the recommendations in the inspector general’s report. Corinne Russell, a spokeswoman for F.H.F.A. said the agency was concluding its supervisory work in this area and would direct Fannie Mae to take necessary action when the work was completed.

In a response, the agency said that by Sept. 29, 2012, it would review its existing supervisory practices and act to resolve "deficiencies in the management of risks associated with default-related legal services vendors." Read more

Shortcuts on the foreclosure paper trail
By Todd Ruger
November 28, 2010

To get a sense of the lawlessness in Florida's court-run foreclosure process, look no further than public records at the Sarasota and Manatee county courthouses.

There, on foreclosure documents open to everyone, is the evidence that at least one law firm's employees repeatedly broke a state law in a rush to push cases through the courthouse so banks could seize people's homes.

The evidence -- missing signatures and misdated documents that could not have been signed on the dates specified -- can be found on an important document called a "mortgage assignment." The paperwork helps prove a lender has the legal right to seize a property.

Without it, a bank would have a costlier and more time-consuming legal path to foreclose, even if a homeowner never makes another mortgage payment.

Faced with that prospect, employees in David J. Stern's law offices bent and broke the rules designed to ensure the documents judges rely on to award foreclosures are authentic, a Herald-Tribune investigation found.

The Plantantion-based firm, one of the state's largest foreclosure practices and a key player in local foreclosure cases, generated dozens of error-filled mortgage assignments in Sarasota and Manatee counties alone. In each case, the firm's employees notarized the documents, swearing they were accurate when they were not.

Stern's attorney and his employees have repeatedly told state investigators and reporters that mistakes on the paperwork they generated were just that -- unintentional and isolated errors. Read more

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cert Pool, SCOTUS

Cert Pool, Wikipedia

The "cert pool" is a mechanism by which the U.S. Supreme Court manages the influx of petitions for certiorari ("cert") to the court. It was instituted in 1973, as one of the institutional reforms of Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. 

Purpose and operation

Each year, the Supreme Court receives thousands of petitions for certiorari; in 2001 the number stood at approximately 7,500,[1] and had risen to 8,241 by October Term 2007.[2] The Court will ultimately grant approximately 80 to 100 of these petitions,[3] in accordance with the rule of four. The workload of the court would make it difficult for each Justice to read each petition; instead, in days gone by, each Justice's law clerks would read the petitions and surrounding materials, and provide a short summary of the case, including a recommendation as to whether the Justice should vote to hear the case.

This situation changed in the early 1970s, at the instigation of Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. In Burger's view, particularly in light of the increasing caseload, it was redundant to have nine separate memoranda prepared for each petition and thus (over objections from Justice William Brennan) Burger and Associate Justices Lewis Powell, Byron White, Harry Blackmun and William Rehnquist created the cert pool.[4] Today, all Justices except Justice Samuel Alito participate in the cert pool.[5] Justice Alito withdrew from the pool procedure late in 2008.[6]

The operation of the cert pool is as follows: Each participating Justice places his or her clerks in the pool. A copy of each petition received by the Court goes to the pool, is assigned to a random clerk from the pool, and that clerk then prepares and circulates a memo for all of the Justices participating in the pool. The writing law clerk may ask their Justice to call for a response to the petition, or any Justice may call for a response after the petition is circulated.[7]

It tends to fall to the Chief Justice to "maintain" the pool when its workings go awry:

Rehnquist memos in the Blackmun files chide the clerks for submitting the memos too late and too long, and for leaving copies in the recycling bin — a major security breach. But a 1996 note to pool law clerks is perhaps the most intriguing, suggesting Rehnquist was concerned that clerks might be shading their summaries to reflect biases. Rehnquist reminded the clerks that cases are assigned to them for summarizing "on a random basis" partly "to avoid any temptation on the part of law clerks to select for themselves pool memos in cases with respect to which they might not be as neutral as is desirable."—[8]

The same note went on to observe, with typical Rehnquist understatement, that "[t]his sort of trade has the potential for undermining the policy of random assignment of memos, and is, to put it mildly, 'not favored.'"[9]

The cert pool remedies several problems, but creates others.

Memos prepared for an audience of nine cannot, by definition, be as candid as private communications within chambers; moreover, they must be written in far more general terms.
The fate of a petition may be disproportionately affected by which clerk writes the pool memo:

    [Cert] pool memos should ideally be balanced and nonideological. But my memory is that it mattered a great deal which case wound up with which clerk. For example, a hard-luck petition by a death-row inmate was likely to get a far more sympathetic hearing in a more liberal chambers than it would in a more conservative chambers . . . On the other hand, a messy regulatory takings petition was far more likely to get a thorough airing if it happened to land on the desk of a clerk in a conservative chambers. —[10]

Prof. Douglas A. Berman has argued that the cert pool substantially weights the preponderance of capital cases on the court's docket.[11][clarification needed]

Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog has argued that the cert pool is partially responsible for the Court's shrunken (by historical standards) docket.[12]. Read more

fn4. It is possible that Burger took inspiration for the cert pool from the manner in which the Court had been handling in forma pauperis petitions. From the tenure of Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes until at least Burger's arrival, IFP petitions would go not to all chambers, but to the Chief Justice's chambers only, where the Chief's clerks would prepare a memo circulated to all other chambers, in a very similar manner to the cert pool's operation. Read more
Office of the Solicitor General
Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Solicitor General of the United States

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. was sworn in as the 46th Solicitor General of the United States on June 9, 2011. The task of the Office of the Solicitor General is to supervise and conduct government litigation in the United States Supreme Court. Virtually all such litigation is channeled through the Office of the Solicitor General and is actively conducted by the Office. The United States is involved in approximately two-thirds of all the cases the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the merits each year. Read more
Margaret Meriwether Cordray and Richard Cordray
Boston College Law Review, Vol. 51:1323

Abstract: Over the last two decades, as the Supreme Court has sharply cut back its case load, the Solicitor General has wielded the tremendous influence that comes with being the Court’s most frequent and successful litigant in new ways. In this Article, the authors examine both the causes and consequences of these changes, which have diminished the Solicitor General’s role at the certiorari stage and expanded it at the merits stage. They find that at the certiorari stage, when the Court is selecting its cases and setting its agenda, the Solicitor General is now seeking certiorari in so few cases—just fifteen per Term—that the Solicitor General is ceding the federal government’s once-substantial influence over the Court’s agenda-setting to more aggressive litigants. At the merits stage, in contrast, the Solicitor General is now participating in over three-quarters of the Court’s cases, and is doing so more frequently as amicus curiae than as a party. The authors address concerns that, with this nearly pervasive involvement, the Solicitor General may have become too intrusive in private litigation or too partisan in cases presenting high-profile, socially controversial issues. They find, however, that solicitors general have acted within their proper constitutional role, largely confining involvement as amicus to cases that directly and substantially affect the federal government’s institutional interests. Read more
Solicitor General Influence and the United States Supreme Court
Ryan C. Black, Michigan State University
Ryan J. Owens, Harvard University

Abstract: Do Solicitors General influence Supreme Court justices to behave differently than they would like? Previous studies examining this question largely suffer from observational equivalence problems, limiting their findings. We employ unique archival data collected from the private papers of former Justice Harry A. Blackmun and find strong support for Solicitor General influence. In a substantial number of cases at the Supreme Court's agenda-setting stage, justices follow the Solicitor General's recommendations even when they are completely opposed to them. At the same time, we find that this influence is not boundless. Justices tend to discount Solicitors who favor policy at the expense of law. Read more
An Empirical Analysis of Supreme Court Certiorari Petition Procedures: The Call for Response and the Call for the Views of the Solicitor General
George Mason Law Review, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2009
David C. Thompson

 Melanie Wachtell

Abstract: The Supreme Court frequently uses two tools to gather information about which cases to hear following a petition for writ of certiorari: the call for response and the call for the views of the Solicitor General. To date, there has been no empirical analysis of how the Supreme Court deploys these tools and little qualitative study. This Article fills in basic gaps in the literature by providing concrete answers to common questions regarding these two tools and offers detailed analysis of how and why states, private parties, and the United States (through the Solicitor General) respond to petitions. In addition, the Article provides much-needed data for litigators and litigants to be able to estimate the probability of their case being heard by the Court, and provides insight on how to react when the Court calls for a response or calls for the views of the Solicitor General. To reach these conclusions, the Article relies on detailed, quantitative analysis of a novel, 30,000-petition dataset, as well as interviews with top Supreme Court litigators, former Supreme Court clerks, and former staff of the Clerk’s office. 66 page PDF. Read more
Procedures of the Supreme Court of the United States, Wikipedia

The Supreme Court of the United States is the only court specifically established by the Constitution of the United States, implemented in 1789. This article is concerned with the process and procedures used by the modern court. Read more

Selection of cases

Since the Judiciary Act of 1925 ("The Certiorari Act" in some texts), the majority of the Supreme Court's jurisdiction has been discretionary.[3] Each year, the court receives approximately 9,000–10,000 petitions for certiorari, of which approximately 80–100 are granted plenary review with oral arguments, and an additional 50 to 60 are disposed of without plenary review.[4][5]

The Court strictly enforces its requirements for the preparation and timely filing of certiorari petitions, in order to manage such a massive caseload. This occasionally results in harsh consequences, as Justice Thomas acknowledged in a 2007 opinion: "Just a few months ago, the Clerk, pursuant to this Court’s Rule 13.2, refused to accept a petition for certiorari submitted by Ryan Heath Dickson because it had been filed one day late ... Dickson was executed on April 26, 2007, without any Member of this Court having even seen his petition for certiorari. The rejected certiorari petition was Dickson’s first in this Court, and one can only speculate as to whether denial of that petition would have been a foregone conclusion."[1]

In theory, each Justice's clerks write a brief for the Justice outlining the questions presented, and offering a recommendation as to whether certiorari should be granted; in practice, most Justices (all of the current court, except Justice Alito) have their clerks participate in the cert pool.[6][7]

During the Justices' regular conference, the Justices discuss the petitions, and grant certiorari in less than five percent of the cases filed. (During the 1980s and 1990s, the number of cases accepted and decided each term approached 150 per year; more recently, the number of cases granted has averaged well under 100 annually). Before each conference, the Chief Justice prepares a list of those petitions he believes have sufficient merit to warrant discussion. Any other Justice may also add a case to the "discuss list"; cases not designated for discussion by any Justice are automatically denied review. The Court or a Justice may also decide that a case be "re-listed" for discussion at a later conference; this occurs, for example, where the Court decides to request input from the Solicitor General of the United States on whether a petition should be granted.[8]

The votes of four Justices at Conference (see Rule of four) will suffice to grant certiorari and place the case on the court's calendar. If the Supreme Court grants certiorari (or the certified question or other extraordinary writ), then a briefing schedule is arranged for the parties to submit their briefs in favor of or against a particular form of relief. During this time, an individual or group having an interest in a case but is not a party to the case may submit a motion to appear before the court as amicus curiae ("friend of the court"). Except for certain specific categories (such as lawyers for state and local governments) or where all parties to the case consent, it is in the Court's discretion whether such motions are granted.

The grant or denial of certiorari petitions by the Court are usually issued as one-sentence orders without explanation. Cases that fall within the Court's original jurisdiction are initiated by filing a complaint directly with the Supreme Court, and normally are assigned to a special master appointed by the Court for the taking of evidence and making recommendations, after which the Court may accept briefs and hear oral arguments as in an appellate case. Read more
Supreme Court Case Selections Act, Wikipedia

The Supreme Court Case Selections Act of 1988 (Pub.L. 100–352, 102 Stat. 662, enacted June 27, 1988, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1257) is an act of Congress that eliminated appeals as of right from state court decisions to the Supreme Court of the United States.[1][2] After the Act took effect, in most cases, the only avenue by which a litigant could obtain review of most lower court decisions was through the writ of certiorari, which was granted at the discretion of the Supreme Court, rather than available to the litigant as a matter of right. Read more
Judiciary Act of 1925, Wikipedia

The Judiciary Act of 1925 (43 Stat. 936), also known as the Certiorari Act, was an act of the United States Congress which sought to reduce the workload of the Supreme Court of the United States.Although the Judiciary Act of 1891 (which created the United States courts of appeals and rendered a small part of the Supreme Court's jurisdiction discretionary subject to grant of writ of Certiorari) had relieved pressure on the Supreme Court's docket, the court remained obliged to rule:on the merits all cases appealed to it over which it had jurisdiction … [after the 1891 act, ] Congress gave the Court discretionary review authority over appellate decisions in diversity, patent, revenue, criminal and admiralty cases. Parties wishing to appeal such cases would file a petition for certiorari, which the Court could grant or deny without passing on the merits.[1]. Read more
Judiciary Act of 1891, Wikipedia

The Judiciary Act of 1891 (26 Stat. 826), also known as the Evarts Act after its primary sponsor, Senator William M. Evarts, created the United States courts of appeals, and reassigned the jurisdiction of most routine appeals from the district and circuit courts to these appellate courts. Because of this, it is also called the Circuit Courts of Appeals Act. Read more
How Not To Be Chief Judge: The Apprenticeship of William H. Rehnquist, Linda Greenhouse
Roberts, the cert pool, and sentencing jurisprudence