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Amicus Request


Policy for Amicus Requests

(Please use the form at the bottom of this page to submit a request)

COPAA Amicus activities are steered by our Legal Director, Selene Almazan in concert with COPAA's volunteer-based committee. All are extremely experienced attorneys knowledgeable about special education law. Current Chairs are COPAA Board Members Alexis Casillas, Esq., Ellen Saideman, Esq. and Catherine Merino Reisman, Esq.

Current Amicus Priorities: Picture of Circuit Court Seal

• Increase participation in Amicus cases;
• Increase collaborative partnerships with organizations representing individuals with disabilities;
• Expand the volunteer base to write COPAA amicus briefs; and,
• Publicize availability of technical assistance that lends support to members working through legal issues in specific cases.

I. Consideration of requests made of the Amicus Committee.

The COPAA Amicus Committee will consider two types of requests: Litigation Technical Assistance or Amicus Participation. 


Requests for Technical Assistance.

Attorneys may seek technical assistance with respect to the handling of litigation, while not necessarily seeking amicus participation from the organization. In the past, the Amicus Committee has convened conference calls to assist members or practitioners with a particularly complicated procedural issue on appeal or to provide input as to the advisability and/or viability of an appeal of a judicial or administrative decision.

A. The issue(s) presented for consideration must be consistent with the COPAA mission statement.

B. The attorney making the request must write to the Amicus Committee with a complete description of the legal issue involved and an outline of the facts of the case. In addition, the requester must attach any pertinent decisions (such as any administrative adjudications, if the case involves an appeal) and pleadings.

Requests for Amicus Participation.

Anyone may write to the Amicus Committee to seek COPAA’s participation as an amicus in pending litigation. Generally, COPAA does not participate as an Amicus at the District Court level, but in exceptional cases will do so. Most requests for Amicus Participation involve cases pending in the Courts of Appeals or the Supreme Court.

A. With respects to requests for Amicus Participation, the considerations are:

  • The issue(s) presented for consideration must be consistent with the COPAA mission statement.
  • The issue presented to the court for a decision has a precedent setting value and the decision of the court will materially affect the educational welfare of school age children with disabilities and/or the substantive or procedural due process rights of their parents.
  • With regard to the subject matter of a request, a sufficient number of COPAA members who have expertise in the subject matter of the request are available.
  • The filing of the brief would have a reasonable likelihood of having a persuasive impact on the decision that the court will reach.
  • There are sufficient resources to review and respond to the request.

    B. The Amicus Committee will follow the following procedures when reviewing requests.

 For Amicus Participation:

(1) The requesting organization or individual must provide the COPAA Legal Director the following information, in writing:

(a) the date the notice of appeal has been filed or is anticipated to be filed;

(b) a complete description of the issues on appeal;

(c) a statement outlining the facts of the case;

(d) a brief discussion of the case’s procedural history (including the name of the court in which the brief will be filed);

(e) the arguments that the principal brief will make;

(f) why the case is important to school children with disabilities and their parents;

(g) the name, telephone number, and address of a contact person within the organization making the request;

(h) the names and contact information of all other organizations that are also being approached to participate in the brief;

(i) the names of the organizations that may oppose the arguments being made in the brief; and,

(j) an outline of the arguments suggested for a potential amicus brief.

(2) The requesting organization or individual must also provide to the Committee an electronic copy of:

(a) the decision from the court below that is the subject of the appeal;

(b) any briefs filed by the parties below;

(c) a copy of the Notice of Appeal and any scheduling orders.

(3) In some instances, the committee may ask the requesting organization to make a brief presentation during a scheduled Amicus Committee conference call.

(4) The requesting organization or individual must make all requests for COPAA assistance 60 days prior to the date that the amicus brief is due.

(5) In those instances in which a request for COPAA participation or to write an amicus brief arises from an emergency or other time critical situation, the COPAA Legal Director in his or her discretion, will consider a shorter time period.

II. Committee Project Management

A. The Legal Director, in consultation with the Committee Co-Chairs, determines whether the issue(s) presented by the requesting organization is one in which COPAA should participate as amicus. The Legal Director will inform the organization whether or not COPAA will provide amicus support.

B. In the event request is approved; the Legal Director shall seek assistance from the requesting party and other Committee members to assist in the drafting or when appropriate, locate pro bono counsel admitted in the relevant Court. It is responsible of the Legal Director or if applicable, pro bono counsel to:

(1) contact opposing counsel to determine whether there is consent to filing of an amicus brief;

(2) prepare and file the motion to appear as amicus; and

(3) file the amicus brief in conformity with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and any applicable local rules.

C.Liaison with Pro Bono Counsel:

(1) The Legal Director serves as liaison with pro bono counsel, the requesting organization, and other participating organizations;

(2) The Legal Director will secure at least two Committee reviewers whose responsibility will be to receive and to solicit comment upon the substance of the brief as submitted to the reviewers by the drafters of the brief.

E. Coordination with the requesting organization and other participating organizations.

(1) The Legal director will provide the requesting organization and other participating organizations with status reports of the Committee’s progress on an as needed basis.

F. Disagreements regarding the substance of amicus briefs and statements of interest contained therein.

In the event a disagreement arises that cannot be reasonably resolved by the Legal Director and committee co-chairs with regard to the substance of the legal argument and/or the statement of interest of amicus, the co-chair(s) will ask the Executive Committee to appoint at least one attorney member of COPAA to be the final reviewer.

All requests for either Technical Assistance or Amicus Participation must be made by e-mailing COPAA's Legal Director using this form. Be sure to attach all requested information as outlined above, and be sure that the request to COPAA is made at least 60 days prior to the date that an amicus brief is due.

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