3

I was checking the US Supreme Court’s website for recent opinions and came across one for State of Montana v. State of Wyoming and State of North Dakota. This opinion looks very different than the others I’ve read in the past. Specifically:

  • The case was based on a “Bill of Complaint,” not a writ of certiorari, which is what I’m more used to seeing.

  • The case references a “Special Master,” a term I’ve never seen before.

  • The opinion is not signed, not even “Per Curiam.”

  • The opinion states a “Decree,” which is quite different than the structure I’m used to seeing.

  • The case number is “137, Orig.,” which seems to be a different numbering system than what’s typically used.

I’ve been trying to Google these terms to see what they mean, but I’m having trouble finding anything on them.

I know that the US Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in cases between states. Is this an exercise of that jurisdiction? If not, what exactly is this type of opinion?

  • Yes. Cases involving one U.S. state suing one or more other U.S. states are part of the U.S. Supreme Court's original jurisdiction. – ohwilleke Feb 21 '18 at 4:53
2

Yes. States, when litigating among one another, file bills of complaint such as the one you linked to in your question.

A special master is usually a court appointee whose job it is to assist with making sure the judgment is carried out properly. This could take the form in appointing a special master to take over a police department's operations in the wake of civil rights rulings against it for corruption, racism, etc. Another example is they can be sent to make evidentiary rulings at a deposition on the spot.

  • In SCOTUS original jurisdiction practice, a "special master" acts basically as a magistrate judge in a district court to take evidence from the parties and supervise pre-trial procedures, who then presents the evidence collected to the Supreme Court for consideration, sometimes with a non-binding recommendation concerning how it should rule on the matter. – ohwilleke Feb 21 '18 at 18:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.