The process of putting the case into your own words forces you to digest the material, while annotating and highlighting can be accomplished in a much more passive manner.
Legal writing and analysis 2nd ed. Annotations will also remind you of forgotten thoughts and random ideas by providing a medium for personal comments.
Remember that everything that is discussed may have been relevant to the judge, but it is not necessarily relevant to the rationale of the decision. A basic approach for paralegals 7th ed.
Different people will tell you to include different things in your brief. While opinions may vary, four elements that are essential to any useful brief are the following: With adequate annotations, the important details needed for your brief will be much easier to retrieve. Legal writing in a nutshell 4th ed.
Judges are not above being selective about the facts they emphasize. When describing the Judgment of the case, distinguish it from the Holding.
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.
A mechanical pencil will also give you the freedom to make mistakes without consequences. Annotating Cases Many of you probably already read with a pencil or pen, but if you do not, now is the time to get in the habit. A statement of the relevant law, with quotation marks or underlining to draw attention to the key words or phrases that are in dispute.
Your pencil or pen will be one of your best friends while reading a case. 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.
Whatever elements you decide to include, however, remember that the brief is a tool intended for personal use. Sometimes, the best statement of the facts will be found in a dissenting or concurring opinion.
Facts of the Case A good student brief will include a summary of the pertinent facts and legal points raised in the case. The legal research and writing handbook: The fundamentals 2nd ed.
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.
Since the losers often appeal to a higher court, this can get confusing. You should also include the facts that are dispositive to the decision in the case. Finally, when you spot a particularly important part of the text, underline it or highlight it as described below. By their very nature briefs cannot cover everything in a case.
The court may discuss intermediate conclusions or issues, but stay focused on the main issue and conclusion which binds future courts.
This will help you later when you try to reconcile conflicting cases. An effective way to reduce this time is to annotate the margins of the casebook.
When you read your first few cases, you may think that everything that the judge said was relevant to his ultimate conclusion.The precise format of a case citation depends on a number of factors, including the jurisdiction, court, and type of case.
You should review the rest of this section on citing cases (and the relevant rules in The Bluebook) before trying to format a case citation for the first time. If you are writing the citation by hand, underline the name in lieu of using italics. If the citation is for a trial court case, write the names using the format “petitioner v.
In addition to its function as a tool for self-instruction and referencing, the case brief also provides a valuable “cheat sheet” for class participation.Download