Briefing Cases

Briefing Cases

In general, it should not take you more than 20 minutes to brief a case after you have read it carefully. The brief should be no longer than two typed pages and should include the students name, the assignment, and the date at the top of the first page.

Every brief should contain the following elements:

Identification of Case

  1. Name of Case: The title of the decision contains the name of the litigants.

  2. Citation (for possible later reference to complete official text): A judicial citation contains the volume number and page number of the reporter system in which the decision appears as well as the year in which the decision was issued.

  3. Date decided (at the highest court level) and the highest court: The level or type of court is important because it indicated the federal or state jurisdiction immediately affected by the decision.

Analysis of Case

  1. Background and Facts: Include previous court rulings here: Facts include the actual circumstances, events or occurrences involved in the case.

  2. Issues (no more than two or three issues per case in one line each: include “yes” or “no” answers after each): An issue is a disputed point or question of law on which a legal action is based. Issues are of two types, procedural and substantive.

a. Procedural: Involves specific disputed questions of law and these issue are the basis of an appeal to a higher court.

b. Substantive: involve broader questions of legal rights and principals, such as liberty and property interests.

  1. Decision of the Highest Court

  2. Majority opinion or reasons for the decision (about three to six lines)

  3. Any dissenting or concurring opinions (two or three lines each)

  4. Comments from you and/or your sources

Please cite all sources at the end of the brief. It is not necessary to create a separate reference page.