Washington – Those representing indigent clients before the U.S. Supreme Court may want to take note of one item in the massive list of orders issued by the Court on Oct. 4.
A motion to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) in the case of Sossamon v. Texas – set for oral argument next month – was denied.
That move surprised some members of the defense bar, including SCOTUSblog’s Kevin Russell, who filed the motion. What’s more, according to Russell, the denial “may signal a change in the Court’s criteria for granting IFP status at the merits stage in some cases.”
“[The] denial seems to reflect a shift from that former practice, at least to some degree,” wrote Russell, who represents the petitioner in association with the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. “Until today, the Court had routinely granted IFP status to the Clinic’s indigent clients and appointed Clinic instructors as counsel at the merits stage.”
The shift may signal one of two things, Russell said: Either the Court believes that it shouldn’t have to foot the bill for indigent parties who are represented by well-funded law school clinics, firms or other organizations, or the motion was rejected because the IFP request was not made at the certiorari stage.