Case Brief

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Edit Case Brief

Case Brief

Case name: You must put down the name of the case at the top of your brief. E.g. David v. Michael.


Parties: Identify the complainant, defendant, and other concerned parties. You may also abbreviate the parties as C (complainant) or D (defendant).


Procedure: Identify the case process features accordingly. Are we at the trial or appellant stage? State or federal court? At which point in the litigation was the case in when the issue was raised?


Issue: Key out the legal issue that is being addressed. The cases assigned in a casebook are usually shorter text extracts of a much longer opinion. Consequently, the issue becomes apparent. You should be cautious attentive to where a particular case is presented in a casebook. For instance, a case that exists under the tort law’s negligence section can have a good chance of its main issue deemed negligent.


Facts: Summarize the facts that are relevant to the case. An opinion may tend to include unnecessary facts or claims that are not directly relevant to the court’s analysis. However, you can add irrelevant facts only when the information helps to clarify a situation. For instance, handling a tort case about a motor a motor vehicle accident implies that you mention certain things that directly relate to the cause. Was the driver distracted? Was the driver under an influence? And not necessarily stating the color or model of the vehicle.


Rule: Indentify the rule of law being applied. A situation that can be straightforward here is when the court applies a well-established negligence rule, for instance. It may get more complex, however, when the court fashions a new rule.


Analysis/Application: At this point, you attempt to describe the court’s perspective for the concerned case. Was the defendant’s claims deemed negligent? What motion was taken after the plaintiff’s pledge? This may be similar to the court’s judgement, but not quite.


Judgement: The court makes an ultimate disposition for the case, and you are expected to describe it vividly. Did the court grant or deny a motion? Assert or negate a lower court? This aspect is typically brief and exact with few words at the end of your case.


Policy (optional): There could be public policy reasons for the court’s adoption of a new rule or application of an old rule. It is advisable you notify this in your case brief. It contains the court’s explanation for the reason of adopting a new rule or applying an old one.


Dicta (optional): The dicta is an extended discussion of an issue that is not necessary to reach the holding. However, the details may be insightful enough to allow the court address such situations in future. In essence, it is not needed for the court’s holding and hence, is not binding law. You may take a brief note if you feel the court provides relevant some relevant dicta.


Dissent (optional): This is not common among cases, but you should include it if found in your casebook. The dissent can be as relevant as a majority opinion, especially if it indicates a crucial disagreement in the law or reflects apparent gaps in the reasoning of the majority. You can note down one or two sentences about the dissent’s perspective for better analysis.

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