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Answered By: Suzanne Schriefer, Criminal Justice & Paralegal Librarian Last Updated: Mar 07, 2016 Views: 486
A case brief is a summary and analysis of a court opinion. Often, students will brief cases to develop a better understanding of a significant decision and to examine and discuss the issues involved in the case.
Student Brief Components
Name of Case, and citation including year of decision
Facts of the case: This is the Who (parties in the case) and the what (important facts) of the case. This should be written in your own words.
History: State briefly what happened at trial and at each level before the case reached the court whose opinion you are briefing.
Issue: What is the legal question? It is framed with a sentence starting with “whether;”
Holding: This is the majority ruling/holding of the case - the answer to the legal question. It starts with a simple yes or no answer to the Legal Issue as stated in the previous section.
- This is the black letter law – this should usually be the actual words taken from the case in the form of a quotation and should be cited.
- Rule: What is the rule of law?
- Discuss the court’s reasoning and explain how it arrived at its holding.
- This will be a principle of law – for example, once a suspect invokes his right to counsel, the police may not question the suspect further without his attorney present.
- Application: Go through how the rule is applied to the set of facts in the case.
Concurring and Dissenting Opinion(s) Reasoning:
What are the different concurring and/or dissenting opinions? What are the differences from the majority opinion?