How to Brief Your Case: See generally Case Briefing Grid available on Blackboard

How to Brief Your Case: See generally Case Briefing Grid available on Blackboard
1. Write the complete case citation across the top of your page. Then, list Facts,
Issue, Holding and Rationale
2. The brief should be typed and one-two pages in length generally.
3. Facts: Briefly describe (in a few paragraphs) the facts (background) of the case.
This is usually described at the beginning of the case. What happened that
brought this case to court? This includes the procedural facts and background.
4. Issue: What is the court deciding in this case? The issue is usually one or two
sentences and is posed as a question. For example, the issue(s) could be Did the
Defendant terminate the Plaintiff due to her age?
5. Holding: What did the court decide? This is also known as the ruling of the court.
It is usually only a sentence (or even just a few words) long and it should answer
the question you posed in the issue, i.e. Yes, the Defendant terminated Plaintiff due
to her age based upon the fact that she was replaced with a significantly younger
6. Rationale: Why did the court decide the way it did? What were the reasons for the
court’s decision? How did they analyze the issue? Reference any statutes,
Constitutions and/or the common law and prior precedents the Court uses in
describing its rationale.

A case brief is a short summary and analysis of the assigned case that you will prepare for class (and later use to study). It is a set of notes that presents information in a systematic way so that you can quickly make sense of a case. Case briefing is an essential skill that you will use throughout this class.  Briefing the cases has four major benefits. First, briefing teaches you the rules of law. Second, they familiarize you with the mechanisms of how courts work. Third, they give you practice at a skill you will need in the business world or as a lawyer. And, finally, they prepare you for the class discussion.
Case Identification    Include information needed to find the case.  Provide names of parties, court that decided the case, the reporter name, page in the reporter and year of the decision.
Facts    Give legally significant facts, which are those facts essential to the court’s opinion, and necessary background facts.

Included in the facts is a brief description of the procedural history of the case.  What happened after the Plaintiff brought the case but before the court issued the opinion you are reading.  Most cases you read will be an appeal of a lower court so you should identify the lower court’s ruling and what the party is appealing
Issue    State the particular legal question(s) that the court is to decide to resolve the dispute before it.  Formulate the issue to include a question that can be answered by the court’s holding. This can be a short question presented.
Holding    A holding is the court’s decision or answer to the issue based on the facts before it.  This can be very short, one or two sentences.  It should answer the question that you posed in the Issue section with a yes or no.
Reasoning    Provide the legal rules the court used and the court’s application of those rules to the case before it.  Perhaps, you could include policy considerations here and the court’s conclusion.  What were the reasons for the court’s decision? How did they analyze the issue? What other cases did they use? CITE TO PRECEDENT & Case law if the court relied upon it.  Did they rely on a statute or the constitution in making their decision?  Make a roadmap for the court’s decision


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