CRM 123 – How to Brief a Case
A case brief is a dissection of a judicial opinion. It contains a written summary of the basic components of that decision. Briefing a case helps you acquire the skills of case analysis and legal reasoning. It also helps you understand it. Briefs help you remember cases for class discussions and assignments. Learning law is a process of problem solving through legal reasoning; case briefs, therefore, should not be memorized. Below are examples and explanations of the components of a case brief.
1. Case Title and Citation
■ Buckhannon Board and Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services
(Plaintiff Nursing Home) v. (Defendant State Entity) 532 U.S. 598 (2001)
Case titles generally take on the names of the parties involved in the case. For example, in this case Buckhannon Board and Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Buckhannon Board is the party asking the Court to reverse a lower court’s holding; West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources wants the Court to affirm that holding.
A citation acts as the case’s “address.” There is a standard format for cases contained in the United States Reports (abbreviated U.S. in case citations). Therefore, in this case, the citation is 532 U.S. 598. This means that this case is found on page 598 of the 532nd volume of the United States Reports.
2. Procedural History
■ Procedural History
The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of the case and denial of attorney’s fees. The Supreme Court affirmed. The procedural history (or posture) states how the case got to the court that wrote the opinion that you are reading.
Buckhannon Board and Care Home, Inc. (“Buckhannon”), which operates care homes that provide assisted living to its residents, failed an inspection by the West Virginia Office of the State Fire Marshall because some of the residents were incapable of “self-preservation” as defined under state law. On October 28, 1997, after receiving cease and desist orders requiring the closure of its residential care facilities within 30 days, Plaintiff, on behalf of itself and other similarly situated homes and residents brought suit in federal district court against the state of
West Virginia, two of its agencies, and 18 individuals. Plaintiff agreed to stay enforcement of the cease-and-desist orders pending resolution of the case and the parties began discovery. The district court granted West Virginia’s motion to dismiss, finding that the 1998 legislation had eliminated the allegedly offensive provisions and that there was no indication that the Legislature would repeal the amendments. Buckhannon then moved for attorney’s fees as the prevailing party.
This section includes a brief overview of the relevant facts of the case that (a) describe the dispute at hand and (b) have brought the case to this point. Basically, you should answer the questions of who did what to whom and why. The facts of the case are often presented at the outset of an opinion of the Court, although sometimes they may describe through the opinion. It is also important here to note the holdings of the lower court(s) (i.e., the legal history of the case) so that you understand the decision of the Supreme Court when it “reverses” or “affirms.”
Is a prevailing party is entitled to attorney’s fees in Federal court when the prevailing party did not receive a judgment on the merits, but only prevailed because the lawsuit brought about a voluntary change in the defendant’s conduct.
In this section, you identify the legal issue(s) addressed by the court. The legal issues should refer specifically to the facts of the case, but you should not phrase the issues as purely factual questions. Issues may involve substantive law or procedural law.
5. Ruling and Reasoning
■ Ruling and Reasoning
(Rehnquist, J.) No. The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the appeals court’s ruling denying the motion for attorney’s fees. Although attorney’s fees may be granted to a prevailing party following a judgment on the merits, in addition to settlement agreements enforced through a consent decree, attorney’s fees are not warranted where there has not been a judicial determination altering the legal position of the parties.
In the United States, parties are ordinarily required to bear their own attorney’s fees so that the prevailing party is not entitled to collect from the loser. However, Congress has passed laws permitting the shifting of attorney’s fees in numerous instances. In refusing to award attorney’s fees in this instance, though, the court stressed that its decision was consistent with prior decisions refusing to award attorney’s fees where the court issued a directed verdict against one party.
The ruling and reasoning section includes what this court ruled, or, how the court answered the question (theoretically, the court’s application of the law to the fact of this specific case).
6. Dissenting or Concurring Opinion
Justice Ginsberg dissented, in which he was joined by Justices Stevens, Souter, and Breyer. His dissent stressed that fee shifting should depend on the outcome of the case, i.e. whether the prevailing party received their desired outcome, regardless of whether or not a judicial decision existed to memorialize the outcome. Essentially, the dissent defined the term “prevailing party” in a practical sense, such clear that a party may be considered to have prevailed even when the legal action stops short of final judgment due to intervening mootness.
Justice Scalia concurred, in which he was joined by Justice Thomas. His concurrence focuses on the fact that a prevailing party cannot be one who left the courthouse empty-handed, i.e. one must have received a judicial determination to be considered a revailing party.
On occasion, a case report will include a dissenting opinion that disagrees with the majority’s ruling and reasoning. There may also be a concurring opinion that agrees with the majority’s result but not its reasoning. If so, briefly sate the main points of the disagreement.
The reason for this announcement is to condense and uncover what I have learnt from taking a shot at this venture and the aptitudes picked up from it. This announcement is to lead a self appraisal of my exploration work and to demonstrate my qualities and shortcoming on my discoveries. The aptitudes and learning explanation is additionally critical on the grounds that it indicates how RAP is readied and it is fundamental keeping in mind the end goal to accomplish BSc. (Hons) graduate degree. The SLS depends on four inquiries: What I gained from the gatherings with my Project Mentor, including the introduction that I provided for my Project Mentor. Before I settled on the choice to take a shot at the exploration and examination venture, I ensured that I experienced alternate points deliberately. The principle explanation behind my choice was on account of, I found that, the examination and investigation venture was direct. I learnt a few things from the gatherings with my tutor however the best of all was that I understood I am a self-coordinated student. The First Meeting Before strolling into the primary gathering with my undertaking coach, I ensured that I had with me a pen and a diary. The advantages of a diary are innumerable however the principle reasons that I chose to keep one within reach were so I could record any inquiries I may need to ask my guide and scribble down brief notes from talks or discussions that we would have. From the plain first gathering, my coach presented and underscored on self-coordinated learning. He clarified the effect it would have on my improvement, information and aptitudes and along these lines; I chose to discover what my realizing style is. All through every one of the gatherings, I worked nearby different understudies; we talked about the significance of time and distinctive manners by which we could utilize the time we had in gatherings helpfully. The exchanges I had with my tutor were primarily in light of my considerations and thoughts. He got some information about my thoughts, how might I consolidate my thoughts into my task and on the off chance that I thought they were of a high caliber. One critical issue that I learnt about was time. When I strolled in for my first gathering I was a couple of minutes late and along these lines, my guide began working with another understudy. I understood from this occurrence that I would need to deal with my ACCA thinks about. My guide clarified the significance of time administration and how it would influence my report in the event that I didn’t assign my opportunity accurately. Since I was not generally dependable, I lost a ton of time and a great deal of my exploration wound up being led in a little space of time. Another point that my guide continually worried upon all through the gatherings was basic assessment and basic investigation. To give myself a thought regarding basic assessment, I willingly volunteered read material that was basic. When I had perused the material, I read through my own report and found that it required basic investigation viewpoints. I ended up changing it on endless circumstances and was extremely exasperated when I understood I hadn’t referenced it precisely either. I chose to peruse up on some exploration books and started modifying my report. The Second Meeting The second gathering comprised of discourses about my thoughts and research. All through the gathering my tutor energized me discuss my thoughts and this helped me make educated judgements. I think investigating data is significantly more valuable since I had an inclination that I was doing everything myself as opposed to having freebees and sites before me. The Third Meeting By this gathering, I had relatively completed my venture. I moved toward my tutor to compose the third gathering. In that gathering, the tutor distinguished my errors and different shortcomings in the report. I asked him how I could expel those slip-ups and enhance the shortcomings. When he disclosed those to me, I noted down the focuses to guarantee my ventures was great. This helped me to enhance the RAP further. The Fourth Meeting The Fourth gathering comprised of a PowerPoint introduction; I was amped up for it as I had not completed an introduction like that previously. Before I began setting up the introduction, I looked up online how to utilize Microsoft PowerPoint and arranged a training introduction. In general, I sense that I took in a significant measure of data from the gatherings with my tutor. They furnished me with various chances to talk about my thoughts and musings and let me encounter something new. The fourth and last gathering finished with my coach asking me what I would say to imminent understudies in regards to the examination and investigation venture. What I would state to imminent understudies would be that when I began this venture, I wasn’t extremely anxious about free adapting however before the finish of it I wound up valuing it to an ever increasing extent. I esteem adapting new things and like examining new thoughts with others and from the gatherings, I feel significantly more sure and prepared to go up against different activities. How well I believed I addressed the examination question? I trust I addressed the exploration question exceptionally well anyway it is essential to comprehend that since I just had auxiliary information and no essential information, my investigation and assessment was exclusively in light of that. I do accept however that on the off chance that I approached Morrison’s intranet and could assess both client and representative sentiments then my answer would have been in more profundity and my information would have likewise been more dependable. It is critical to consider that in the event that I had endorsement to get to the organizations intranet, to gather essential information, that it would have required me significantly greater investment, time that I couldn’t generally lose. In addition, I trust that right now my aptitudes of securing essential information and leading essential research are not exactly acceptable. The fundamental wellspring of data that my information depended on was Morrison’s and J Sainsbury’s plc Annual reports of 2008, 2009 and 2010. With the end goal for me to have addressed the inquiry in more profundity, I would have required different wellsprings of information from one specific source that would have built up my discoveries to be right. I trust that with time I will enhance my aptitudes anyway it is essential to recollect that there will dependably be confinements with regards to gathering data. As a rule, I trust that my answer was sensible and that my exploration report was instructive. How I showed relational and relational abilities amid the task work. I showed my relational and relational abilities in a wide range of courses amid the venture work. When composing my report, I ensured that it was clear and brief. I read through it to take mind that it had a judicious stream of contentions and that it was consistent. One critical point that I kept it mind was that I just included significant actualities as there was a word check that should have been clung to. I discovered this somewhat troublesome as I tended to compose on about disconnected actualities that didn’t answer the inquiry. When talking before my coach and kindred understudies I felt that nobody had any challenges understanding me and I experienced no difficulty understanding the input given by my tutor to me. One issue that I found was that, when gotten some information about my sentiments and thoughts, I wouldn’t communicate adequately, to determine this issue I began composing inquiries in my diary with the goal that I could ask my coach and find the solution that I required. By doing this, I found the solution that I required and my thoughts and musings were cleared too. From the exchanges with my tutor and understudies, I understood that it is imperative to ask the correct inquiry as this acquires more data for both alternate understudies and myself and enables the coach to comprehend that everybody gets it. Another manner by which I exhibited my relational and relational abilities was by demonstrating that I was tuning in to both my tutor and different understudies. I trust that by tuning in and allowing everybody to voice their conclusions helps fabricate great associations with others. Listening is tied in with disentangling and accepting data. Through my coach gatherings, I learnt that viable listening not just lessens the impact of commotion bending, however it settle issue by empowering understanding from another person’s view point.>