Frequently asked questions about how to get your Petition for Allowance of Appeal granted.
If you lose your appeal in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, you do not have a right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Instead you must file a Petition for Allowance of Appeal to ask for permission to write a brief in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and continue appealing. If you are granted permission to write the brief the legal term is Allocatur.
Getting a Petition for Allowance of Appeal granted is very difficult. We have gotten several granted, but it is an uphill battle.
In my opinion only, there are only three real shots to get your Petition for Allowance of Appeal granted. You may be able to get yours granted for another reason, but I have only had them granted for these three reasons.
The first is obvious, that the Superior Court made a mistake or didn’t follow the law, or the CommonPleas Court made a mistake or didn’t follow the law. In this instance, there must be a clear case where the trial court refused to follow an established law in Pennsylvania, and the Supreme Court has to want review the matter and think there is a chance the outcome different. If the result would be the same had both of the lower courts followed the law correctly from the beginning, meaning the outcome of the case would have been different had the courts ruled in your favor from the beginning, the likelihood and getting Allocatur is slim. This ground is the hardest to win to have your Petition for Allowance of Appeal granted.
The second is the matter is new; something that has never come up before. Imagine before television and the internet. How would the law effect and impact the way we surf the net or the way we watch television? The best example is the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence and Facebook. Can you use a Facebook post in a case? Does it come into evidence? How is it authenticated? Are there exceptions to the hearsay rules regarding Facebook? If you have an issue that is so novel, there is not a single case on point, you have a great chance at an Allocatur grant.
The third is a matter of public importance; something in which the public has a strong vested interest. For example, segregation of schools, abortion, the death penalty, a big zoning project, or same sex marriage. A great example is a historic church that is being demolished for a new shopping mall. The local zoning board gave the mall developers the permits to tear down the church, but the matter has been appealed through the courts and now the civic association is asking the Supreme Court to review the matter. In this instance, the Supreme Court may want to involve themselves in this type of matter because it is of the greatest public concern.
When you write your Petition for Allowance of Appeal, try to make your issues fit into one of the three examples from above and you will give yourself the best chance at getting an Allocatur grant.