Derived from Latin, Amicus Curiae is a phrase translating to “friend of the court”. This term refers to an individual or entity that is not directly involved in a court case, but shows a strong interest in it. A party considered to be amicus curiae may petition the court to file a document that can be used to elucidate the current court case. As such, an amicus brief is a document filed by an amicus curiae.
For an individual or entity to be considered amicus curiae, the person or party must not gain or lose from the outcome of the court trial. Thus, the party is essentially not involved in any way other than having taken a special interest in the case. Usually, organizations with special causes take the role of amicus curiae in order to provide the court information that is related to the case and to their cause. This event occurs mostly when a social justice issue is the emphasis of the court case.
Before an individual can become amicus curiae, there are certain conditions that must be fulfilled depending on the court jurisdiction. These conditions vary from state to state and district to district, therefore it is necessary to consult with legal counsel to ascertain if the party meets the conditions.
Amicus curiae parties may file written, legal documents that may provide new insight or relevant information to the case. Such information can either be rejected or accepted by the court. If accepted, the amicus brief is entered into the official case record, and it is considered during deliberations.