Speed Reading a Case Speed v. Briefing a case is simply the act of creating a "brief" summary of the relevant facts, issuesrule and reasoning of a particular case you've read in class.

However, to understand briefing, you must first understand the case methodwhich is how most law schools teach students. In at Harvard University Professor Christopher Columbus Langdell decided that the best way to teach law students was to have them read cases rather than textbooks. Textbooks explicitly state the rule of law and explain why it exists.

Cases, however, are the stuff of real life. Cases contain the rule and also illustrate how the rule applies to different sets of facts.

After reading the cases, Langdell engaged his students in a Socratic dialogue where he grilled the students on what the cases meant. The idea behind the case method is that each case illustrates one tiny rule out of an entire body of law.

By synthesizing each rule into a larger body of law, the student progressively learns not only the rules but also the process of legal reasoning. Law school hasn't changed much in years. Casebooks are unlike any other text you've encountered. Instead of explaining a legal principle, the casebook starts with an actual case and you have to figure out the legal principle based on a real court proceeding. Your job is to the extract the relevant principle and reasoning out of the case.

That's where briefing comes in. Chapters in a casebook are arranged according to broad topic areas that illustrate the general principles of the body of law. The first case in a chapter, also known as the "principal case," usually illustrates the broad rule for that section of the book. The principal case is then followed by a series of squib or note cases that show a refinement of the law, a different rule or a different interpretation of the rule.

Casebooks also pose questions at the end of a case that are meant to make you think about the principles. These questions typically are ambiguous and difficult to address given your present knowledge of the material. This can be extremely frustrating for the beginning law student.

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The most that an author does to answer the question is to cite a case that you then have to look up for the answer. In between the cases, there might be commentary from law review articles or an illustration of a rule by citing a statute or the Restatement 1 that covers that body of law.

Don't overlook the footnotes. More often than not, a lot of key information is found in the footnotes. By briefing the case using the principles discussed below, you should be able to at least analyze the question.

The upside to questions is that you get a clue about what the professor might ask in class. Cases are written by lawyers for lawyers.A case brief is a condensed, concise outline-form summary of a court opinion. In reviewing a case for the purpose of completing a case brief, there are three main issues to consider.

Facts of the Case: This is a summary of events that provides context to the issues discussed in the appeal. This most often includes a summary of events which lead to an arrest and trial of the defendant.

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It should also include some of the arguments made by the parties in the case which are related to the reason for the appeal. For example, a person may be arrested for possession of a controlled substance. His attorney may have argued that police conducted an illegal search and the evidence should be suppressed and not used against him during the trail. This summary should include a description of reasoning and ruling of all the lower courts involved in this case.

For example, a case which has made it to the Supreme Court will have moved through more than one appellate court first.

Basis of Appeal: Each appellate case will have a legal basis for appeal in which one of the parties involved in the case will assert that an error was committed during the original trial.

Other precedent previous cases may be cited in making this argument. Be sure to include the precise error alleged to have been made. Disposition: This is the outcome of the case. The final decision handed down by the highest appellate court. Was the original outcome of the trial court affirmed, reversed, remanded, modified, etc?

If there is a dissenting opinion judges on the court who do not agree with the majority decision please include their reasoning. Supreme Court. Issue: Does the Texas statute violate a constitutional right to have an abortion? Holding: Vote: Yes: The statute is unconstitutional because the constitution contains a right to an abortion. Concurrence 2: Burger : there is a right to an abortion, but the court should give more leeway to medical safeguards. Procedural History: At a preliminary hearing, the trial court dismissed case for lack of probable cause defendant won.

Rules: A Recklessness involves a higher level of culpability than criminal negligence, but requires less culpability than intentional actions. The court may infer that the defendant was subjectively aware of the risk. Risk of death to another in a general sense is sufficient; defendant need not risk death of a specific individual.

Reasoning: A Court relies on statutory definitions for recklessness from Colorado law, the model penal code, and New York law. As it defines recklessness, the court contrasts recklessness with criminal negligence, noting that both recklessness and negligence require a gross deviation from the standard of care, but recklessness requires subjective awareness of that risk while criminal negligence only requires a failure to perceive the risk.Case Brief. Case briefing is a long-used method of studying law.

Its purpose is to have students identify the rules of law found in court cases and analyze how courts apply these rules of law to the facts of a case in an objective and rational manner.

Case briefing hones analytic skills and heightens understanding of the role of courts in defining, interpreting, and applying law. This appendix explains one way to brief cases. There is no single standard for case briefing, but the structure below is common and will serve you well, both in studying the law now and in using the law in the future.

It is worthwhile mastering. After explaining a how a brief is constructed, a sample brief of the case Eric J. Betty M. Purposes of a Brief. Establishes a useful means of bringing the facts of a case back to memory in a short time, for whatever purpose, including classroom discussion.

Allows you to extract from a judicial decision its future value as precedent. In other words, it helps you find the principles of law that the case sets forth.

Allows for easier and smoother review of an area of law. Each brief takes a complex and long document the case and reduces it to its key facts, holding, and rationale the brief. A collection of briefs can provide a comprehensive summary of an area of law. Elements of a Brief. A brief is primarily a self-teaching tool; as such, you should structure them to meet your own needs. Many formats have been proposed by various writers. The method to use is the one that makes the most sense to you.

For an introductory law class, the purpose of a brief is more limited than for either a law student or a lawyer. Also, a brief should be brief! A long brief eliminates the most important role of a brief: the boiling down of a complex case to its essence. Several basic components of a brief are present in almost all brief styles.

case brief sample

If your brief style includes the following elements, you should do well:. State the facts of the case in your own words. Indicate which facts are operative, and which bear on the issues to be decided. Be brief.

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Often a sign of how well you understand the case is your ability to identify the relative importance of facts. Some cases may have many extraneous facts that do not need to be in your brief. Most certainly, some facts will be more important than others.

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Your task is to frame the problem by describing the facts that count, the ones that matter. Issue spotting is the skill of recognizing in the facts a pattern that implies a certain type of issue. For instance, facts that describe two people both claiming ownership rights over a chair should spotlight an issue of ownership of personal property. In reading cases, often the parties and the court do this work for you.

Supreme Court Briefs

Ask yourself what legal questions are posed by the appealing party. The appealing party is alleging that an error of law was made. What is that error?An appellate brief is a written legal argument presented to an appellate court. Briefs of this kind are therefore geared to presenting the issues involved in the case from the perspective of one side only. Appellate briefs from both sides can be very valuable to anyone assessing the legal issues raised in a case.

Unfortunately, they are rarely published. The U. Supreme Court is the only court for which briefs are regularly available in published form. LAW KF K8 includes the full texts of briefs relating to a very few of the many cases heard by this court. In addition, summaries of the briefs filed on behalf of the plaintiff or defendant for all cases reported are included in the U. Supreme Court Reports. A student brief is a short summary and analysis of the case prepared for use in classroom discussion.

Case Brief Sample

It is a set of notes, presented in a systematic way, in order to sort out the parties, identify the issues, ascertain what was decided, and analyze the reasoning behind decisions made by the courts. Although student briefs always include the same items of information, the form in which these items are set out can vary. Before committing yourself to a particular form for briefing cases, check with your instructor to ensure that the form you have chosen is acceptable.

Beginning students often have difficulty identifying relationships between the parties involved in court cases. The following definitions may help:. Plaintiffs sue defendants in civil suits in trial courts. The government state or federal prosecutes defendants in criminal cases in trial courts. The losing party in a criminal prosecution or a civil action may ask a higher appellate court to review the case on the ground that the trial court judge made a mistake.

If the law gives the loser the right to a higher court review, his or her lawyers will appeal. If the loser does not have this right, his or her lawyers may ask the court for a writ of certiorari. Under this procedure, the appellate court is being asked to exercise its lawful discretion in granting the cases a hearing for review.

For example, a defendant convicted in a federal district court has the right to appeal this decision in the Court of Appeals of the circuit and this court cannot refuse to hear it. The party losing in this appellate court can request that the case be reviewed by the Supreme Court, but, unless certain special circumstances apply, has no right to a hearing.What is it?

And why do students hate this case brief so much? We are going to come through the process of writing together to help you deliver excellent content. How to write a case brief? Now we are talking about a case brief that prepared typically by law paralegal students and other people studying law; it's a summary of the key points in a court decision. Usually, that's going to be in an appellate court decision ; this paper is really short and typically takes a page or less.

Why do we need briefing? The main point in learning it is to understand some basic principles of law, how it is being applied to a particular set of facts. The second reason for any student is preparing for finals; you will apply this experience as a template to your final exam. What should you write about in your casebook notes? The opening lines include publisher, source. Write a related court that made the decision and the year when final opinion was published.

The first part is going to be setting out each fact. You must search for and distinguish what facts really matter for the court decision. Identify facts established at trial. Find out, whether the case comes up from the trial court on appeal or it comes from another appellate court. It is the key question the court has to decide in a field of law. Note that it is a legal question. You must spot the issue and articulate the jest in a question. Now, fortunately for any student and people reading these cases, the courts usually are very helpful as all cases start with the words identifying the related issue.

It is a personal problem presented to the trial, and the court is going to be struggling with.

case brief sample

The answer is to determinate who wins the case. In some briefs, we might put the holding. It is a set of law that judges use to decide a particular case; it may include more than one rule depending on how complicated is the issue or how many problems it involves. In most situations, judges must consider and follow a couple of different rules: it depends on the facts; the judges will discuss these rules; including all the important points in the front of your paper is crucial.

Sometimes people call it analysis or reasoning. In this section, you should explain the choice of judges.How to write a case brief for law school: Excerpt reproduced from Introduction to the Study of Law: Cases and Materials. The previous section described the parts of a case in order to make it easier to read and identify the pertinent information that you will use to create your briefs. This section will describe the parts of a brief in order to give you an idea about what a brief is, what is helpful to include in a brief, and what purpose it serves.

Case briefs are a necessary study aid in law school that helps to encapsulate and analyze the mountainous mass of material that law students must digest.

The case brief represents a final product after reading a case, rereading it, taking it apart, and putting it back together again. Who will read your brief? Most professors will espouse the value of briefing but will never ask to see that you have, in fact, briefed. You are the person that the brief will serve! Keep this in mind when deciding what elements to include as part of your brief and when deciding what information to include under those elements.

What are the elements of a brief? Different people will tell you to include different things in your brief. Most likely, upon entering law school, this will happen with one or more of your instructors. While opinions may vary, four elements that are essential to any useful brief are the following:. If you include nothing but these four elements, you should have everything you need in order to recall effectively the information from the case during class or several months later when studying for exams.

Because briefs are made for yourself, you may want to include other elements that expand the four elements listed above. Depending on the case, the inclusion of additional elements may be useful.

For example, a case that has a long and important section expounding dicta might call for a separate section in your brief labeled: Dicta.

Case Brief Template

Whatever elements you decide to include, however, remember that the brief is a tool intended for personal use. To the extent that more elements will help with organization and use of the brief, include them. On the other hand, if you find that having more elements makes your brief cumbersome and hard to use, cut back on the number of elements.

case brief sample

At a minimum, however, make sure you include the four elements listed above. Personal comments can be useful if you have a thought that does not fit elsewhere.

In the personal experience of one of the authors, this element was used to label cases as specific kinds e. This element allowed him to release his thoughts without losing them so that he could move on to other cases. In addition to these elements, it may help you to organize your thoughts, as some people do, by dividing Facts into separate elements:.

9+ Case Brief Examples – PDF

Procedural History is usually minimal and most of the time irrelevant to the ultimate importance of a case; however, this is not always true. One subject in which Procedure History is virtually always relevant is Civil Procedure. When describing the Judgment of the case, distinguish it from the Holding.

Remember that the purpose of a brief is to remind you of the important details that make the case significant in terms of the law.

It will be a reference tool when you are drilled by a professor and will be a study aid when you prepare for exams.In the weeks before the bar exam, your study regime should be winding down in order to give your… more Research Extensively Before Writing Any form of legal writing will typically have the primary goal of describing the current laws… more Example Outline of an IRAC The IRAC is a four part writing method consisting of an Issue section, Rule Section, Application… more Essay Writing Basics Getting good scores on law school exams, and the bar exam itself, is easier than you may think.

While you could write multiple IRACs for multiple issues, the result will often be more readable and efficient ie good for timed exams if you combine intertwined issues into one mega-IRAC. Note: You will see that I use the Issue section as an Umbrella section in the example below.

I believe this helps the reader digest the subsequent information, but some disagree with me on that point and simply state the legal issues alone. Under Public Act 9. Public Act 9. Another case, Jones v. Lucy was driving a car down a rural road and impacted another vehicle which was exiting a driveway. Lucy suffered a sprained wrist that developed severe swelling. A passerby drove Lucy to the nearest hospital before any police arrived on scene. Although Lucy meets all elements of PA9.

If the court does not accept her argument, that she reasonably believed medical treatment was immediately necessary, she will be found guilty.

Rule: Under Public Act 9. Application: Lucy was driving a car down a rural road and impacted another vehicle which was exiting a driveway. Conclusion: Although Lucy meets all elements of PA9. Footer Privacy Policy.


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