How to instruct a case | (2023)

The term "legal briefing" is often confusing. There are at least two different meanings in which the term is used.

appeal letter

An appeal summary is a written legal argument submitted to an appellate court. Its purpose is to persuade the higher court to uphold or reverse the decision of the lower court. Written statements of this type are therefore designed to present the facts of the case only from the perspective of one side.

Appeal summaries from either side can be of great value to anyone evaluating the legal issues raised in a case. Unfortunately, they are rarely published. The US Supreme Court is the only court for which summaries are regularly available in published form. TheReference briefsSeries (REF. WEAR KF 101.9 .K8) contains full summaries of some of the many cases heard before this court. In addition, summaries of petitions filed on behalf of the plaintiff or defendant for all reported cases are included in theUS Supreme Court Reports. Lawyer's edition, 2.Series (REF. LEI KF 101 .A42).

student letter

A student summary is a brief summary and analysis of the case prepared for use in a classroom discussion. It is a series of notes presented in a systematic way to narrow down the parties, identify the issues, establish what was decided, and analyze the reasons for the court's decisions.

While student summaries always contain the same information, the way these elements are presented can vary. Before committing to a specific form for briefing cases, check with your trainer that your chosen form is acceptable.

The parties and how to keep an eye on them

Freshman students often have difficulty identifying the relationships between the parties involved in legal proceedings. The following definitions can help:

plaintiffProcessaccusednocivil actionsin trial courts.

Diegovernment(State or Federal) Public Ministryaccusednocriminal casesin trial courts.

The losing party in a criminal or civil action may request that a higher court (appeal) review the case, claiming that the trial judge made an error. If the law entitles the loser to a higher court review, their lawyers will appeal. If the loser does not have this right, their lawyers can apply to the court for an injunction. As part of that process, the Court of Appeals is asked to exercise its legitimate discretion by granting cases a review hearing.

For example, a defendant convicted by a federal district court has the right to appeal that decision to the Circuit Court of Appeals, and that court cannot waive a hearing. The losing party in this Court of Appeal may request that the case be reviewed by the Supreme Court but, barring special circumstances, is not entitled to a hearing.

These two proceduresappealsand petitions forcertiorari, are sometimes loosely grouped as "Appeals". However, as shown, there is a difference between them and you should know about it.

A person looking for acertificate of certiorari, i.e. a decision of a higher court to hear the case is denoted ascandidate. The person who must respond to the petition, i.e. the victor in the court of first instance, is referred to as theinterviewee.

A person submitting a formappealSophisticated review of the appeal as a legal matter is known ascomplainant. Your opponent isrespondents.

The name of the party bringing the action in court always appears first in legal documents at each level of court directors. For example, Arlo Tatum and others sued in federal district court to obtain an injunction against Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird and others to prevent the Army from spying on them. Tatum and his friends wereplaintiffand the case became known asTatum contra Laird. The Tatum group lost in district court and appealed to the Court of Appeals, where they were referred to ascomplainant, and the accused became thecomplainant. The case was still knownTatum contra Laird.

When Tatum and his fellow plaintiffs won the appeals court, Laird and his fellow plaintiffs decided to seek a Supreme Court review. You have successfully applied for acertificate of certiorariby the Supreme Court, which instructs the Court of Appeal to send the case files (case files, petitions and various legal documents) to the Supreme Court.

At this point, the name of the case has changed toLaird x Tatum: Laird and servants were now thesupplicant, and Tatum and his companions were therespondents. Various religious groups and a group of former Secret Service agents were authorized to present briefs (written arguments) on behalf of the defendants in order to persuade the court to reach a decision in their favor. Each of these groups was designated ascourt friend, or "friend of the court".

In criminal matters, it is common to change the titles of cases, since most reach the Courts of Justice as a result of an appeal by a convicted defendant. Such is the case ofArizona vs. Mirandalater becameMiranda V. Arizona.

student letters

These can be long or short, depending on the level of analysis required and the needs of the trainer. A comprehensive briefing includes the following elements:

  1. title and citation
  2. facts of the case
  3. despise
  4. decisions (stocks)
  5. justification (justification)
  6. separate opinions
  7. Analyze

1. Title and Citation

Dietitleof the case shows who is opposed to whom. The name of the person who brought a claim in that specific court always appears first. Since losers often appeal to a higher court, this can be confusing. The first section of this guide shows how to identify players without a leaderboard.

DieQuoteexplains how to locate the case reporter in the appropriate case reporter. If you only know the case title, you can use to find the citationcase summarythrough this court, Google Scholar, or one of the electronic legal databases to which the library subscribes (WestlaworLEXIS-NEXIS).

2. Facts

A good student letter contains a summary of the relevant facts and legal issues raised in the case. It shows the nature of the proceedings, who prosecuted whom, based on which incidents and what happened in the lower court(s).

The facts are usually conveniently summarized at the beginning of the judgment published by the court. Sometimes the best statement of fact is found in a dissenting or concurring opinion. NOTICE! Judges are not undemanding about the facts they emphasize. This can become crucial when trying to reconcile seemingly conflicting cases, as the way a judge characterizes and "handles" facts often determines how he will vote and what rule of law will consequently be applied.

The factual part of a good student briefing includes the following elements:

  • A one-sentence description of the nature of the case, intended to serve as an introduction.
  • An explanation of the relevant law, with quotation marks or underlining to draw attention to the disputed key words or phrases.
  • A summary of the complaint (in a civil case) or charge (in a criminal case) and relevant evidence and arguments that will be presented in court to explain who did what to whom and why the case is believed to involve illegal conduct.
  • A summary of actions taken by lower courts, for example: Defendant convicted; conviction upheld by the Court of Appeal; The Supreme Court granted certiorari.

3. Problems

The legal issues or legal issues raised by the respective facts are often explicitly formulated by the court. Again, watch out for the occasional judge who confuses the issues raised by the trial court's opinion, the appellate parties, or the nature of the case.

Constitutional cases usually involve a number of issues, some of interest only to litigants and lawyers, others of broader and lasting importance to citizens and officials. Make sure you have included both.

With rare exceptions, the outcome of an appeals process depends on the meaning of a provision of the constitution, statute or case law. Capture this determination or discussion point in your problem rephrasing. Put it in quotes or underline it. This will help you later when trying to reconcile conflicting cases.

When observing problems, it can be helpful to formulate them in the form of questions that can be answered with a precise "yes" or "no".

For example, the famous case ofBrown v Board of Educationit concerned the applicability of a provision of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution regarding a school board's practice of excluding black students from certain public schools solely on the basis of race. The exact wording of the amendment reads: "No State shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protections of the laws." The observant student would start by identifying the key phrases in this amendment and deciding which one really mattered in this case. Assuming there was no doubt that the school board was acting like a state and that Ms. Brown was a "person under his jurisdiction", so thekey questionwould be: "Does expelling students from a public school on the basis of race alone amount to denying the 'equal protection of the law'?"

Of course, the ramifications of this case go far beyond Ms. Brown, the Topeka school board, or even public education. They question the continued validity of earlier decisions in which the Supreme Court ruled that confining black Americans to "separate but equal" facilities did not deny them "equal protection under law". Note these implications in your Problem Statement at the end of the briefing, setting out your observations and comments.

NOTE: Many students misinterpret cases not because they see the issues in terms of applicable law or case law, but for some other reason. There is no substitute for taking the time to carefully word the questions so that they actually contain the key provisions of the law in a form that can be answered concisely. It may also be helpful to name the issues, for example "procedural issues", "substantive issues", "legal issues" and so on. Also remember that the same case can be used by teachers for different purposes. Therefore, part of the briefing challenge is to identify the points of the case that are central to the topic discussed in class.

4. Decisions

A decision or finding is the court's response to a question posed for answer by the parties involved or by the court itself in its own interpretation of the case. There are narrow procedural decisions, for example, “case closed and in custody”, broader substantive decisions dealing with the interpretation of the constitution, law or case law. If the facts are accurate, interests can be stated in simple "yes" or "no" answers or in brief statements drawn from court language.

5. Justification

The reasoning or reasoning is the chain of reasoning that led the judges to decide, either by majority or by dissenting opinion, as they did. This should be described point by point in numbered sentences or paragraphs.

6. Separate Opinions

Both agreeing and dissenting opinions must be subjected to the same depth of analysis to highlight the main points of agreement or disagreement with the majority opinion. Watch how each judge voted and how they lined up. Knowing how judges in a given court typically act on specific issues is essential for predicting how they will vote in future cases involving similar issues.

7. Analysis

Here the student must assess the importance of the case, its relationship to other cases, its place in history and what it reveals about the court, its members, its decision-making processes or the impact it has on the litigants, government or the Company. . Here the judges' implicit assumptions and values ​​must be examined, the “correctness” of the decision must be discussed, and the logic of the reasoning must be considered.

a warning

Don't write the case until you've read it at least once. Do not think that because you have found the crimson prose of the best judge that you have necessarily extracted the essence of the decision. Look for unarticulated assumptions, fallacies of logic, manipulations of the record of facts, or distortions of precedent. Then ask: How does this case relate to other cases in the same general area of ​​law? What does this show about legal politics? Does the outcome violate your sense of fairness or impartiality? How could you have chosen better?

More information and sample cards

Many of the legal research and writing guides include a discussion of student summaries, appellate summaries, and other types of legal memos used by practicing attorneys. For examples and more information, see the library books listed below:

  • Bahrych, L. (2009).Legal writing in a nutshell(4ºHg., Nutshell series). St. Paul, Minn.: West.[Stacks KF 250 .S68 2009
  • Clary, B. & Lysaght, Pamela. (2006).Successful legal analysis and writing: the basics(2ndEd.). St. Paul, Minnesota: Thomson/West. [Ref. Lei 250 .C53 2006]
  • Edwards, L. (2007).Legal writing and analysis(2nded.). New York, NY: Aspen: Wolters Kluwer Law and Economics. [Ref. Legal space and reserve KF 250 .E378 2007]
  • Garner, B. (2004).The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Convincing Court and Appellate Briefings(2nded.). Nova York: Oxford University Press. [Ref. Lei KF251.G37 2004]
  • Hames, J. & Ekern, Yvonne. (2015).Research, analysis and legal writing(5ºEd.).[Reserveraum KF 240 .H36 2015; Para 3thirded. (2009) Stacks KF 240. H36 2009]
  • Putman, W. (2003).Legal analysis and writing(2nded., série The West Legal Studies). Clifton Park, NY: Thomson/Delmar Learning. [Ref. Lei KF 250 .P87 2003]
  • Ray, M. & Ramsfield, Jill J. (2005).Legal Writing – Do It Right and Write(4ºed., American case book series). Saint Louis Paul, Minnesota: Thomson/West. [Ref. Gesetz KF 250 .R39 2005]
  • Shapo, H., Walter, Marilyn R., & Fajans, Elizabeth. (2003).Writing and analyzing in law(Revelation 4ºed.). Nova York: Foundation Press. [Stacks KF 250 .S5 2003]
  • Slocum, R. (2006).Legal thinking, writing, and persuasive reasoning. Newark, NJ: LexisNexis Matthew Bender. [Stapel KF 250 .S568 2006]
  • Yelin, A. & Samborn, Hope Viner. (2015).The Guide to Legal Research and Writing: A Fundamental Approach for Paralegals(7ºEd., Aspen College Series). [Reserve room KF 240 .Y45 2015]

Prepared by C. Pyle, 1982. Revised by K. Killoran, 1999 and by M. Richards, 2017.


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How do you structure a case response? ›

How to write a case study response
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  4. Conclusion / Recommendations.
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There are several steps to writing an answer to a case study assignment:
  7. STEP 7: SUBMIT.

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Writing a Case Study Analysis
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  3. Uncover Possible Solutions/Changes Needed. ...
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How to give instructions more effectively (suitable for 2-7)
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One of the principle tools used to affect learning is the four-step method of instructional delivery. This process (four-step method of instruction) is used to relate the material that is in the lesson plan with the learner. The steps include preparation, presentation, application, and evaluation.

How do I get better at structuring cases? ›

Make sure you understand all the different types of cases that you may face. Identify the most appropriate structure for each type. Solve 30-50 cases and try to understand where do they fit in your categorizations. Based on your experience think of the potential variations in structures within each of the case types.

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What is the fastest way to memorize a case study? ›

Condensing Information On One Side

Writing out information on one side of A3 or A4 can be a very useful way of arranging the case study. It will make it easier for your student to memorize. By writing down notes, the student will be forced to read and process the material that will reinforce learning.

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He has helpfully characterised three main types of case study: intrinsic, instrumental and collective[8]. An intrinsic case study is typically undertaken to learn about a unique phenomenon.

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Specifically, six key learning strategies from cognitive research can be applied to education: spaced practice, interleaving, elaborative interrogation, concrete examples, dual coding, and retrieval practice.

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