Case Brief Project (1-2 Pages, Samples Attached Here: student case brief examples.pdf).
The goal of this assignment is to find a case that has been decided by the Supreme Court of the United States or the Supreme Court of California from within the past 5 years, then summarize the judicial opinion in the form of a case brief (see examples above and more information below).
This website should help you find a case from the US Supreme Court according to issues of interest to you: https://www.oyez.org/issues . For example, if interested in affirmative action cases, you can see a list of such cases at https://www.oyez.org/issues/155 . From that list, one would usually look for a case decided by the US Supreme Court within the last 5 years; however, if the most recent case on that topic was not from within the last five years, such as Fisher v. University of Texas (see https://www.oyez.org/cases/2015/14-981), then an older case may be selected if the rationale for selecting an older case is explained in the case brief. From that Oyez webpage for the Fisher case, you can access the opinion of the case at https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/579/14-981/#tab-opinion-3589817 to summarize in your case brief (and you can also check your understanding with the summary of the case on the Oyez webpage).
See below for the more detailed assignment instructions:
Complete the following course project, which consists of researching a case and writing a critical case brief after reading and analyzing the judicial opinion associated with the case.
Research one case that the U.S. Supreme Court or the California Supreme Court (not a trial court or an intermediate court of appeal or a court in another state/country) has written a decision on (preferably within the last 5 years, although older cases may be selected if of a particular interest, which must be explained in the case brief)
For more information on writing a student case brief, please review this website: https://www.lib.jjay.cuny.edu/how-to/brief-a-case.
The case brief should have a case citation (parties involved and year of decision), brief facts (only the most important facts that the court relied on), issue(s) (the question(s) to be resolved by the court), holding/rule of law (the precedent established by the case, which is the court’s answer(s) to the issue(s)), reasoning/rationale (why the court ruled as it did), other opinions (e.g., dissent and/or concurring opinions, if any), and your own brief analysis (e.g., why you agree with the court or not).
Thus, answer the following questions while preparing a case brief:
Case: What was the name of the case? Please include a link to the case opinion online and the year of the case as well. Do not select cases that were determined to be moot, automatic death penalty appeals, or any case that did not produce a substantive opinion that can be analyzed in each of the categories below. If a case is too difficult to understand, select a different case–there are many cases to choose from and there are several that are very approachable with the knowledge gained in this course.
Parties: Who were the parties?
Facts: Briefly discuss the type of case it is (e.g., civil, criminal) and what the facts of the case were that were relied upon in the decision made by the Court (the dispositive facts only). This should not be the bulk of a case brief, and there will be plenty of unimportant facts left out. Make sure that the facts included are important to understanding why the court held as it did, which will help complete this case to other cases (an important skill in our common law system of precedence under the doctrine of stare decisis).
Issue: What was the issue or issues to be decided by the court? This is best phrased as a question or questions that the Court answered. If the Court did not answer a legal question, such as when the Court chooses not to accept the case, then it is not a good case to choose to brief!
Holding/Reasoning & Rationale: What was the holding (the decision of the court that answered the issue(s)) and what was the court’s rationale or reasoning for the holding? What rules of law were mentioned?
Other Opinions: Were there any dissenting or concurring opinions of note? If so, summarize.
Analysis: Do you agree with the majority opinion or any dissenting or concurring opinion? Why or why not?
Discussion: Why did you select this case? Why do you think the Court chose to hear this particular case that you chose, given the large number of writs of certiorari the Court receives each term?
Every year the court has a large number of writs of certiorari received each term. Remember, neither the California nor the U.S. Supreme Court has to hear every case brought before it. Having a case decided by these courts is a privilege, not a right.
Your response should be 1-2 pages, double-spaced.
Properly cite all sources and place any direct quotes in quotation marks.
Use headings to designate the applicable areas of the case brief (e.g., (e.g., “Facts,” “Issue,” “Holding,” “Reasoning/Rationale,” “Analysis,” “Discussion”). Additionally, here is a video walking you through how to write a case brief (the case brief discussed in this case uses slightly different headings but the same basic principles apply with regard to reading a case with writing a case brief in mind): How to write a case brief Liberal Vs Estrada
(the video relates to a 9th Circuit opinion available at http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2011/01/19/08-17360.pdf. For additional information on case briefing, see http://www.lawnerds.com/guide/briefing.html#WhyBriefaCase?.
Also, for help finding judicial opinions to analyze for the case brief, the following websites provide free access to court decisions:
Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/issues (this site will let you search for U.S.Supreme Court cases and judicial opinions by issue/topic)
Google Scholar, http://scholar.google.com/ (choose “case law”, select court(s), and search by citation, case name, or keyword)
Public Library of Law, http://www.plol.org/Pages/Search.aspx (free; registration required)
Cornell Legal Information Institute (Cornell University Law School):
Federal cases: http://www.law.cornell.edu/federal/opinions.html
State cases: http://www.law.cornell.edu/opinions.html
Law Library of Congress Guide to Law Online:
Federal cases: http://www.loc.gov/law/help/guide/federal/usjudic.php
State cases: http://www.loc.gov/law/help/guide/states.php
The Supreme Court of the United States places recent decisions, as well as bound volumes of the United States Reports back to volume 502 (October 1991 term), on its website, http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/opinions.aspx
All written assignments will be evaluated for completeness, accuracy, clarity, compliance with assignment requirements, and integration of course material. You are responsible for maintaining copies of all of their work in case of the need for resubmission.
Late assignments and assignments not in Word (DOC, DOCX), ODT, RTF, TXT, DOT, or PDF format may not be accepted and may result in a “0.”
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