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Case Briefing


Finding the Parts of a Judicial Decision (Shapo, Walter, & Fajans, 2008):

1.    Facts includes the facts that created the dispute as well as the procedural history of the case and prior decisions

2.    Issue(s) the question that the court must decide to resolve the dispute between the parties.

3.    Holding(s) is the court’s decision on the question that was actually before it. The holding provides the answer to the question asked in the issue statement.

4.    Legal Rule and Reasoning states the rule and the court’s explanation of it and supplies the court’s reasoning for its decision. It’s important to isolate the court’s reasoning from the facts and the holding of the case.

5.    Policy -  Underlying legal decisions are the social policies or goal that the decision maker wishes to further.

6.    Evaluation – Consider the court’s application of rule to the facts of the case and the logic of the court’s opinion. Ask yourself questions like:

a.     Are these relevant issues?

b.     Were all issues dealt with in the ruling?

c.    Is there a dissenting opinion that gives a different perspective on the law or the facts?

d.    Is there a gap in the court’s reasoning?

e.     Are there alternate policies not considered?



Shapo, H. S., Walter, M. R., & Fajans, E. (2008). Writing and Analysis in the Law, Fifth Addition. New York: Thomson West.