How to Brief a Legal Case (ver 3)


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Slide presentation created on 3-24-2012, by Michele N. Schumacher, Esq., Adjunct Professor, Southside Virginia Community College, Keysville, VA

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How to Brief a Legal Case (ver 3)

  1. 1. HOW TO BRIEF A LEGAL CASEMichele Nieroda Schumacher, Esq., AdjunctProfessorBusiness Law I Clip Art 00305893.jpg taken fromSouthside Virginia Community College http://office.Microsoft.comCreated March 22, 2012 1
  2. 2. Why learn how to brief a case?• To be able to interpret case law that may affect businesses. “Contracts” by NobMouse on Flickr: 2
  3. 3. • What is a case? • Litigation between two at least two parties.• Who are the parties? • The Plaintiff, the person bringing the law suit • The Defendant, the person or entity against whom the suit has been filed• How does a case name appear? • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) • State of Florida v. Casey Marie Anthony, Case Number 48- 2008-CF-015606-O The above two examples are called case citations. 3
  4. 4. What does the citation, Brown v. Board of Educationof Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) tell us about the case?• Name of the Plaintiff (usually to the left of the “v”) • Brown• Name of the Defendant (usually to the right of the “v”) • Board of Education of Topeka• Year the case was decided • 1954• Where (which) Court decided the case • United States Supreme Court• Where you can find a written opinion of the case • Volume 347 of the United States Supreme Court 4 Reporter at page 483
  5. 5. What is a Brief of a Case?Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd ed., defines“brief” in part as follows: In general. A condensed summary of the facts and circumstances, or propositions of law, constituting the case . . . 5
  6. 6. Essential Elements of a Brief1. Citation2. Facts3. Issue4. Decision5. ReasonEvery brief written will have these five sections. 6
  7. 7. Citation• Give the full citation for the case, including the name of the case, the date it was decided, and the court that decided it.Example: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) 7
  8. 8. FactsBriefly state1. The reasons for the lawsuit2. The identity and arguments of the plaintiff(s) and the defendant(s), respectively3. The lower court’s decision, if appropriate 8
  9. 9. IssueConcisely phrase, in the form of aquestion, the essential issue before the court.If more than one issue, you may have two ormore questions written 9
  10. 10. DecisionIndicate with a “yes” or “no”, if possible, thecourt’s answer to the question(s) in the issuesection. 10
  11. 11. ReasonSummarize as briefly as possible• the reasons given by the court in reaching itsdecision(s), and• the case or statutory law relied upon by thecourt in arriving at its decision. 11
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