As counselors and advocates in the law, we often find clients fundamentally misunderstand the ability to take an individual case to the highest court in the State, the Indiana Supreme Court, or to the United States Supreme Court.
For the most part, these Courts do not focus on correction of errors made by lower courts. However, all rules have exceptions, and because of the loss of life (death penalty) or freedom (incarceration), these courts do consider the factual and legal merits of these cases in the right circumstances.
In Indiana, the Indiana Supreme Court does take direct transfer of some more serious criminal cases, namely where a sentence of death or life imprisonment without parole. In civil matters, a few proceed directly to it as a matter of right, such as where a trial court finds a statute unconstitutional. In the balance of cases, a Petition to Transfer must be filed and accepted by the Indiana Supreme Court.
The types of cases the Indiana Supreme Court typically exercises its discretion and takes are those of important policy, reflects a conflict in the law, or where the law is ambiguous or needs clarification. As such, it is incorrect to presume any citizen can have his or her case heard by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Equally, under state or federal law, a person or entity may ask the United States Supreme Court to accept an issue. As a general rule, these cases must have first been presented to the highest appellate court, and either decided or rejected.
Statistically speaking, the types of cases in which the United States Supreme Court exercises its discretion and grants Cert. are those of great public policy importance or where there is conflict between the federal appellate circuits.
Inasmuch, at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we note in this post the relief available in lower courts is more likely to be successful. No step in lower judicial proceedings should be neglected for these higher courts. Nevertheless, with the right type of legal issues, a litigant may reach either or both of these higher courts.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle appeals in Indiana state and federal courts.