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January 2002

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INTRODUCTION:In the early hours of April 14, 2000, Robert Lee Tarver died in Alabama's electric chair, even though four Justices of the United States Supreme Court had voted to review the merits of his case. This situation is not unique. Each year, practitioners and pro se litigants alike petition the Supreme Court without fully knowing the rules pursuant to which the Court will decide their client's, or their own, fate. The reason is that the Supreme Court operates under two sets of rules-those that are published and those that are not. The former specify This Article is based on a speech that Professor Robbins delivered on April 18, 2002 as part of the Donahue Lecture Series. The Donahue Lecture Series is a program instituted by the Suffolk University Law Review to commemorate the Honorable Frank J. Donahue, former faculty member, trustee, and treasurer of Suffolk University. The Lecture Series serves as a tribute to Judge Donahue's accomplishments in encouraging academic excellence at Suffolk University Law School. Each lecture in the series is designed to address contemporary legal issues and expose the Suffolk University community to outstanding authorities in various fields of law.