by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 4th 2014 7:38pm
In the past, we've noted just how complicated it is to file a petition to the Supreme Court to hear your case. Many of the rules seem designed to make it difficult and expensive. While that may be useful in lowering the number of crackpot filings, it still seems to go too far. It's especially difficult for "pro se" filings -- people who are representing themselves, rather than having a lawyer do it for them. While many pro se cases are disasters from the beginning (no need to mention the old joke about a "fool for a client"), sometimes they can get somewhere. Popehat alerts us to the news that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case ("granted cert," as they say) in Holt v. Hobbs, after the petitioner, a prisoner by the name of Gregory Holt, filed a handwritten petition.
The specific case involves a question of whether or not a prison's "no beards" policy violates Holt's religious freedom (he's Muslim, and wants to wear a trimmed beard for religious reasons). While there are plenty of stories of wacky pro se lawsuits from inmates, in this case it appears that Holt has carefully researched the issues, the legal precedents, and how to file a petition for the Supreme Court. While the Court did limit the questions the court will consider to just one basic one, it's still impressive to see a handwritten pro se case get heard by the Supreme Court. Of course, now I'm wondering how Holt will handle the oral arguments since he's in prison.
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