Legal Defense Fund’s Brief Bank Passes 200

— Lyn Stoesen, News Staff


The NASW Legal Defense Fund’s Amicus Brief Database has made more than 200 briefs available to members through the association’s Web site.

The database was launched in 2006 to provide members with a resource for accessing friend-of-the-court briefs which NASW has filed or joined in legal cases. The briefs in the database span more than three decades.

The database includes the text of the briefs filed, summaries of cases, the courts in which the cases were filed, legal citations, outcomes and links to U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

“This kind of legal information is primarily available through expensive subscription services,” explained NASW Associate Counsel Sherri Morgan. “We have been very pleased to be able to offer this material to our members over the past several years. These briefs can be used for policy work, research and other projects.”

Amicus curiae briefs are accepted by courts as an aid to understanding aspects of issues that may not be fully addressed by those involved in the case or where specialized knowledge or an additional perspective can help courts reach decisions in appellate cases. The goal of NASW and the Legal Defense Fund has been to ensure that a social work perspective is represented in cases of interest to the profession.

The brief database can be searched by keyword, such as state names, years or NASW policy titles. Results show the name of the case, a brief summary of the issue at stake, the outcome (if determined) and a link to the actual amicus brief text. The most recently filed briefs are posted at the top of the page.

Briefs filed by the Legal Defense Fund span a wide range of topics. Recent briefs have addressed sexual harassment, the death penalty and same-sex marriage.

“Feedback from members has been consistently positive,” Morgan said. “We hope social workers will continue to use this resource as we add more briefs.”