Procedural History How did this case get to this particular court? Typically, you will be reading case law from the appeals court. That means the case has already been decided at a lower court and the losing party has appealed to a higher court. Typically, the lower courts don't write opinions on their decisions, consequently, you'll almost always be reading appellate decisions.
Title and Citation The title of the case shows who is opposing whom. The name of the person who initiated legal action in that particular court will always appear first. Since the losers often appeal to a higher court, this can get confusing. The first section of this guide shows you how to identify the players without a scorecard.
The citation tells how to locate the reporter of the case in the appropriate case reporter. Facts of the Case A good student brief will include a summary of the pertinent facts and legal points raised in the case. Sometimes, the best statement of the facts will be found in a dissenting or concurring opinion.
Judges are not above being selective about the facts they emphasize. The fact section of a good student brief will include the following elements: A one-sentence description of the nature of the case, to serve as an introduction. A statement of the relevant law, with quotation marks or underlining to draw attention to the key words or phrases that are in dispute.
A summary of the complaint in a civil case or the indictment in a criminal case plus relevant evidence and arguments presented in court to explain who did what to whom and why the case was thought to involve illegal conduct. A summary of actions taken by the lower courts, for example: Issues The issues or questions of law raised by the facts peculiar to the case are often stated explicitly by the court.
Constitutional cases frequently involve multiple issues, some of interest only to litigants and lawyers, others of broader and enduring significant to citizens and officials alike. Be sure you have included both. With rare exceptions, the outcome of an appellate case will turn on the meaning of a provision of the Constitution, a law, or a judicial doctrine.
Capture that provision or debated point in your restatement of the issue.
Set it off with quotation marks or underline it. This will help you later when you try to reconcile conflicting cases. Board of Education involved the applicability of a provision of the 14th Amendment to the U.
Many students misread cases because they fail to see the issues in terms of the applicable law or judicial doctrine than for any other reason. There is no substitute for taking the time to frame carefully the questions, so that they actually incorporate the key provisions of the law in terms capable of being given precise answers.
Remember too, that the same case may be used by instructors for different purposes, so part of the challenge of briefing is to identify those issues in the case which are of central importance to the topic under discussion in class.
Reasoning The reasoning, or rationale, is the chain of argument which led the judges in either a majority or a dissenting opinion to rule as they did.
This should be outlined point by point in numbered sentences or paragraphs. Separate Opinions Both concurring and dissenting opinions should be subjected to the same depth of analysis to bring out the major points of agreement or disagreement with the majority opinion.
Make a note of how each justice voted and how they lined up. Knowledge of how judges of a particular court normally line up on particular issues is essential to anticipating how they will vote in future cases involving similar issues.
Analysis Here the student should evaluate the significance of the case, its relationship to other cases, its place in history, and what is shows about the Court, its members, its decision-making processes, or the impact it has on litigants, government, or society.
Look for unarticulated premises, logical fallacies, manipulation of the factual record, or distortions of precedent. Then ask, How does this case relate to other cases in the same general area of law? What does it show about judicial policymaking?
Does the result violate your sense of justice or fairness? How might it have been better decided? Further information and sample briefs Many of the guides to legal research and writing include a discussion of student briefs, appellate briefs and other types of legal memoranda used by practicing attorneys.
Examples and more information can be found in the library books listed below: Legal writing in a nutshell 4th ed. S68 Clary, B. Successful legal analysis and writing: The fundamentals 2nd ed.
C53 ] Edwards, L. Legal writing and analysis 2nd ed. Law and Reserve Room KF A client just sent me this e-mail: I was wondering if you could give me (or blog about) a little more insight about how wait lists usually work. Sample Memo.
TO: Gaby Duane FROM: Clark Thomas RE: Loman's Fashions - Breach of contract claim (advertising circular) DATE: April 26, QUESTION PRESENTED 1 Under New York law, 2 did 3 Loman's Fashions' description of a designer leather coat in an advertising circular constitute an offer 4 to sell the coat which became a binding contract when the text of the advertisement indicated that the.
A candid and pragmatic guide to doing well in law school and getting excellent grades while allowing you time for other interests.
Sep 21, · How to write a case brief for you 1L year of Law SchoolAuthor: George Williams. Wake Forest Law offers a variety of courses in many areas of legal theory and practice. Below you will find a complete course listing.
You can also find lists of courses that satisfy the Experiential Learning Requirement, Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research III Requirement, and Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research IV Requirement..
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