NMU Bounty Hunters
Marquette, MI 49855
How to Write a Case Brief
NOTE: This how to instruction assumes that the reader has some knowledge of what a case brief is, its purpose, etc. These instructions only go into detail on how to write one. A case brief is a summarization of a case with all of the “important” aspects needed by a lawyer as a reminder, so along with the format keep in mind that only necessary parts should be mentioned as a guideline. Two key components are to make all titles in bold and to make sure and add the case citation, which is what you use to find the case, at the top.
The Format of the case is in bold
1) The most important part of a case brief is the five major rudimentary parts. These consist of the facts, the legal question, the answer the court comes up with, the reasoning behind the answer, assenting and dissenting opinions, and then the conclusion. Depending on the teacher these titles can change, but I will refer to them as facts, issues, decision, reasoning, and conclusion. This is a paper format that is a summarization to quickly confirm the important aspects you need to know.
How to appropriately apply the rudimentary parts of a case
2) The facts are the reasons for the case concerning the citizen’s end, the beginning issue such as who stole what from who and then the legal aspect concerning which courts the case has gone through up until the court that holds the case you are briefing.
3) From there we have the legal question. In the legal question you put all the aspects that this case has been a case so far. For example, is it a First Amendment Issue, maybe a property issue, or even a religious issue that conflicts with a law? It is even possible that all of these questions are in the case you are briefing, in which case all are written down.
4) Next is the decision handed down by the courts. This is a simple yes or no, depending on the teacher or person you may create this for, you may be required to give a very brief answer as to why in a single sentence. If they need clarification.
5) The fourth step is to give the court’s reasoning for the answers that they give, including precedent and other factors.
6) The next part is not necessarily in the case that you are briefing, but first is to give any dissenting opinions made by justices and then any concurring opinions which can be confusing because they are made with agreeing how the case was decided, but not for the reasons that it was decided that way. Concurring and dissenting opinions are usually marked with a label, either in bold or italics.
7) The final step is to give the conclusion. This also can vary in how to do it because some teachers merely want the summery of the case and how it impacts future cases that are similar. (How it could be used as precedent). The other way is to have your personal opinion of the case, whether or not it was decided right or for the right reasons, adding what you feel is missing or should have been considered (Similar to your personal assenting or Dissenting opinion).
9 years ago