Case Brief

Case Brief

Case Brief

  • Case Brief
    1. Why Brief a Case?
      1. Saves the researcher/writer time.
      2. Summarizes the case, so don’t have to repeatedly read the case.
  • Provides a “Cliff Notes” for the case.
  1. Helps the researcher/writer understand the case because it is WRITTEN IN THE AUTHOR’S OWN WORDS!
  1. How to Cite Cases
    1. Citations (in CA) – California Rule of Court, Rule 1.200 provides:
    2. “Citations to cases and other authorities in all documents filed in the courts must be in the style established by either the California Style Manual or The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, at the option of the party filing the document. The same style must be used consistently throughout the document.”
  • Name – plaintiff v. defendant
  1. Parenthetical – Court deciding case and year case decided.
  2. Numerical citation – volume of reporter, reporter abbreviation, first page case appears on.
  3. Example (Bluebook): City of Stanton v. Cox, 255 Cal. Rptr. 682 (Ct. App. 1989)
  • Example (California)- Cryolife, Inc., v. the Superior Court (2003)110 Cal.App.4th 1145
  1. Procedural History
    1. Status of the case in the court system. NOT the story of the case.
    2. This is what happened in the court system as the case made its way through the TRIAL court.
  • A case may go on appeal at different stages:
    • The pleading stage.
    • During discovery.
    • After a motion for summary judgment.
    • After jury verdict or entry of judgment.
  1. Issues
    1. The question(s) the court of appeal or supreme court have to decide.
    2. In other words, the questions the parties request the court answer.
  • Easy to spot because the court typically says:
    • The issue on appeal is WHETHER . . .
    • The issue is WHETHER . . .
  1. There is usually more than one
  1. Holding
    1. Answers the issue question(s) with a Yes or No and then 1 or 2 sentences explaining WHY!
    2. Examples:
  • King is not an employee under Title VII. Unlike employees, King was paid commissions, not a salary and benefits as an employee would.
  1. Facts
    1. The Story of a case.
    2. The incident or accident or thing that leads to a lawsuit being filed.
  • It happened before filing of the lawsuit or any actions in the trial court.
  1. Hint – do last. The facts that are necessary should be here IF they appear in the Rationale or Reasoning section.
  1. Rationale/Reasoning
    2. This section of a case brief explains the why of the court’s decision. The first part should state the rule (statute, regulation, court rule, or prior court opinion).  The next part is the application of the rule to the facts (story facts) of the case.
  • Must, MUST, MUST be in the student’s own words – not just quoting from the brief.
  1. Disposition
    1. This is procedurally what the court did after it decided the appeal.
    2. Did the court:
      • Remand the case (send it back for further proceeding)?
      • Reverse the trial court’s ruling?
      • Affirm the trial court’s ruling?
      • A combination of remand and reverse or affirm?


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