What is a Trial Brief and can I see a sample?
Below is an example of a Trial Brief, an external document that paralegals create. You can also click on the sample at the bottom of the page.
Sample Trial Brief
- CASE STYLE
The top of the Trial Brief needs to include the case style. The case style identifies the relevant information about the case such as the court’s name, the names of the parties, the docket number or case number that was assigned by the clerk of court, and the title of the document. For example:
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR JOHNSON COUNTY, ALABAMA
IN RE: THE MARRIAGE OF CASE NO.: 12-1234-DR-001234
JOHN DOE, DIVISION: Family
PETITIONER/HUSBAND’S TRIAL BRIEF
- INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT
The party filing the Trial Brief would make a brief introductory statement simply stating why the Trial Brief is being filed.
- QUESTION(S) PRESENTED: ISSUES(S)
This section will address the legal issue(s) in the brief. The issue is the legal question to be answered by the court. The issue should include the rule of law (which law applies, how a law applies, or whether a law applies), the legal question, and the key facts. When you are reading the issue, ask yourself, “What legal question, about what law, involving what facts, is being argued about in the case?” If you have more than one issue, make sure you list them in the same order that you will discuss them in your argument section.
- STATEMENT OF FACTS
In order to save the judge time reading all the pleadings filed in a case to determine what the case is about, include a statement of facts. Make your client look favorable by using descriptive words to emphasize the facts that support your position. If you are stating facts that are not favorable to your client, word them in such a way that is less noticeable. You can present the facts in chronological order or by topic. Do not argue your case in this section. You will argue the case later in the Trial Brief. You can use your client’s name when stating the facts. Present your client in a way that will help the judge begin to form good impressions and draw conclusions about your client. Win the judge over!
The argument section of the Trial Brief is the most important section. This is where you analyze the law that supports your client’s position and describe why and how the law supports the position of your client.
When presenting the cases and statutes to make your argument, make sure the favorable cases and statutes stand out and discuss how they apply to your client’s case. You also should include the unfavorable cases and statutes showing why they are different and how they should not apply to your client’s case.
Do not just summarize your cases and statutes. Analyze and apply them to your client’s case so the judge will see how the cases should be used to rule in your client’s favor. If you use the Issue, Rule, Analysis/Application, and Conclusion (IRAC) approach, you will be sure you are analyzing the issue. For example:
- Issue – identify the issue(s) raised by the facts of the client’s case
- Rule – identify the law(s) that controls the issue(s)
- Analysis – how does the rule of law apply to the issue(s)
- Conclusion – a summary of the legal analysis
Case Law (if needed)
Application of the law to the issue being addressed
Discussion of the opposing party’s position
- You will divide your argument into sections.
- Each section must have its own header.
- You can use Roman numerals or other identifying numbering.
- You may center the header on the page or left justify it.
- The Trial Brief is a persuasive document; attempt to make even your headers persuasive.
- If you need to, you can also use subheadings; these usually use capital letters of the alphabet for identification.
- Each section must have its own header.
- Your citations should also appear in the body of the Trial Brief. Use The Bluebook method of citation.
- Never use first person when writing.
- Focus on the parties, referring to them by name or using their titles, such as husband or wife.
The conclusion section of your Trial Brief is a request for what action you want the judge to take. This section should be very brief. Summarize the highlights of your argument. You do not have to include any citations in this section. At the very end, reiterate what you are asking the court to do. This section could be as short as one sentence, but no more than a half a page.
- SIGNATURE AND DATE
The end of your brief is similar to what you would see at the end of a letter. For example:
Dated: ____________________ ____________________________________
Attorney So and So
Attorneys for (Husband or Wife)
Name of Husband or Wife
Attorney’s Street Address
Attorney’s City, State and Zip
Attorney’s Bar No.:
- CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
Anytime you file anything with the court, you must verify that all parties have received copies. The Certificate of Service is placed at the very end of a pleading and states that a copy has been served on all parties. You must also include how it was served, such as by mail, efiling portal, email, or by hand delivery. For example:
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I HEREBY CERTIFY that the foregoing document was served via (U.S. Mail, hand delivery, through the efiling portal, or email) to the attorney for the (Wife or Husband), attorney’s name, attorney’s address, attorney’s email, this ____ day of Month, Year.
You may want to include exhibits for the court to review, such as deposition transcripts, answers to interrogatories, affidavits, and other documents. Fully describe each exhibit within your Trial Brief and then labeled at the end of the brief. Never insert exhibits in the middle of your Trial Brief.