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Advisory Committee on Litigation

Advisory Committee on Litigation

The Advisory Committee on Litigation is staffed by the department of Constitutional Services.

Class of 2014

Robin W. Hadfield
Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Barry McDonald
Synod of Southern California and Hawaii

Class of 2016

Tim Read
Synod of Mid-Atlantic

Reid Dalton
Synod of Mid-Atlantic

Class of 2018

Beth Law
Synod of the Mid-Atlantic

Matthew R. Hall
Synod of Living Waters

Amicus Curia Briefs 

When the Stated Clerk deems it necessary, after consulting with appropriate persons or bodies, the Stated Clerk may retain legal counsel and institute or participate in legal proceedings in civil and criminal courts.

One vehicle available to carry out that responsibility is the filing of amicus curiae briefs.

Amicus curii is a Latin term for a party that is not one of the active litigants in the case, but who speaks to the court as a friend. It also means to bring to the court’s attention policy matters and issues which should be considered by the court before rendering its decision.

The process that leads to the filing of an amicus brief may begin internally when a presbytery or an entity of the church raises a concern involving religious liberty or personal and social issues, or externally when another denomination or organization asks the Stated Clerk to consider the issues in a case. Where the brief involves state or local issues, the presbytery involved is ordinarily notified and asked to comment.

The Advisory Committee on Litigation advises the Stated Clerk on matters of litigation for which the Stated Clerk is responsible. The committee evaluates the denomination’s participation in amicus briefs on the basis of 17 criteria(PDF) to guide them in determining whether a particular brief is of interest to the denomination.

When filing an amicus brief, the Stated Clerk speaks on behalf of previous assemblies and applies to the issues in a case the statements made by the Assembly. As an officer of the Assembly, the Clerk does not speak as an individual or for the whole Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), but for the Assembly.

The Advisory Committee on Litigation (ACL) advises the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly regarding participation as a party, or an amicus, in litigation related to matters of civil and religious liberty, relations between church and state, and any other matters related to the mission and interest of the church.