Screening Criteria

Screening Criteria in the United States

The bases upon which appeals courts decide which cases to review. Screening criteria are most critical for those appellate courts with discretionary jurisdiction, but screening is important for courts having mandatory review as well. In the latter instance, screening is necessary to determine whether abbreviated procedures should be used. These judgments are based on considerations similar to those used by courts not required to grant review. The most important criterion is the importance of the policy issue(s) or law question(s) raised by the case. If the case will have consequences for many people, or raises a new question, or represents a constitutional challenge to a major legislative enactment, the chances of a court’s deciding to review the case are increased. Some cases are selected because they advance the policy preferences of individual judges. This element is often key to the assessment of case importance. Second, courts consider the extent to which there is conflict of interpretation between or among lower courts. Courts with discretionary jurisdiction often seek to further the cause of consistency by rendering a decision that will resolve conflicting lower court rulings. Third, courts consider the parties involved, particularly the party pursuing review. Certain interest groups are themselves selective about cases they choose to sponsor or join. Group attachment to a question may signal the importance of that issue to a court. Similarly, if the federal government is party to a suit, the case is more likely to be accepted for review. Finally, appellate courts will be more likely to review cases where they suspect a lower court has erred in its judgment.

See Also

certiorari, 261; Discretionary Jurisdiction (Apellate Judicial Process).

Analysis and Relevance

The screening of cases for appellate review serves several purposes, and the criteria used are tailored to further those ends. Some criteria are used to service technical needs. Jurisdictional and standing requirements, for example, are examined. No case will be accepted if it fails to establish those threshold conditions. In addition to policy priorities, screening criteria allow the court to implement particular role orientations or interpretive approaches. An appellate judge who subscribes to the self-restraint view will screen cases accordingly. It may also be possible to screen in such a way as to avoid, at least for the short term, handling highly controversial issues. The delay may produce a legislative response to the problem, a preferred outcome for the advocate of self-restraint.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Screening Criteria from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Screening Criteria: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Screening Criteria. This part provides references, in relation to Screening Criteria, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Screening Criteria by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Screening Criteria and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Screening Criteria or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Screening Criteria and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Screening Criteria. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Screening Criteria should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Screening Criteria when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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