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Introduction to Case Analysis


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Format for briefing cases
1 Name and Citation
2. Court
3. Judicial History
4. Facts
5. Issues
6. Holdings
7. Reasoning
8. Decision
9. Concurring Opinions
10. Dissenting Opinions
What are the elements of Name and Citation
1. Two names separated by v.
2. Underlined or itallicised
3. Only last names unless part of title or organization
Does a citation require the listing of additional plaintiffs or defendants
Are all citations required?
Yes: Both formal and informal
Does the year of the decision always follow the citation
What is the Judicial History?
It is called the " Procedural Posture."
o What judicial relief the plaintiff was seeking when the case was first brought
o What decisions were made in the lower court as to the rights of the parties
May a defendent bring a cross complaint or a counter claim?
Why are the facts of any case very important?
Because everything flows from the facts.
What facts are important in the brief
Only the facts that the court relied upon to make the decision. Must separate the wheat from the chaff
How do you determine the facts in a case in order to prepare a brief?
You read the entire case first so that you do not over brief.
How much of a case brief should be dedicated to the facts of the case?
The facts should be presented in three or four sentences
Do judges play around with the facts in precedent setting cases?
Yes: They try to fit their finding to the facts.
Do judges try to make the winner of the case an object of sympathy?
Yes: This justifies the judges decision:
What is an Issue?
This is the principal of law that the court is considering
How are issues presented?
Issues are presented as questions of law
What are the two ways that issues can be presented
Issues can be framed either narrowly or broadly.
What is the best way for a beginner to fram an issue?
Narrowly in terms of the particular facts in the case. Later this can be broadened.
What potential problem flows from issues that are framed too broadly
They may reach too far and thus not hold
How narrow can an issue be framed?
An issue should always be framed in terms slightly larger than the particular case at hand
What is the maximum number of issues usually found in a case?
There are rarely more than three
What is a holding ?
A holding answers the question and settles the principal of law raised by the issue. Holdings shoud be stated narrowly at first, then broadend
What ultimately determines how broad a holding will be?
Later courts
How many holdings will there typically be in a case?
Most courts deceide a case by resolving one or two issues, so there are rarely more than two holdings
What is dicta?
Issues discussed by the court, but not necessary to resolve of the case.
Is dicta binding ?
No, Only a holding is.
Can you rely on principles in the headnotes.
Not usually, This is normally Dicta
What must a holding do?
Must answer questions of law raised by issues
How many holdings are there in a case?
There are only as many holdings as there are issues
How many sets of issues and holdings are there in a case?
There are only as many as is necessary to dispose of the case
What is the function of "Reasoning" in a case brief?
Reasoning explains the logical basis of the holding

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