Case brief- CRJ 123

HOW TO BRIEF A CASE
CRJ 123:LAW OF ARREST, SEARCH, AND SEIZURE

A case brief is a summary of the key points of a case. It is designed to serve as a study tool to allow you to review the most important aspects of a case without having to delve back into the case itself. The actual process of briefing a case also helps in understanding what you have read.

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The points for each section are noted below. In addition, points will be deducted for writing mechanics that interfere with the reader’s understanding of the case brief. Use full sentences to answer the questions below.

CASE INFORMATION: Name, date, full citation, page number in text. (2.5 pts)

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE? (FACTS): What actions did the parties engage in that resulted in a crime? If a case is telling a story, this is the plot. You do not need to go into excessive detail here. Use this section to highlight the facts of the case that were important to the ultimate decision. Although normally writing needs to be summarized in your own words with out excessive reliance on quotes, this is a little different in that there is only so many ways to state the facts. Therefore, while the best briefs will summarize, I am not going to significantly downgrade as long as the paraphrases and quotes are adequately cited with page numbers. In this section, I am more interested in your ability to identify and highlight the key facts to the case, rather than the precise wording (again, as long as properly cited). (5 pts)

HOW DID THE CASE GET TO THIS PARTICULAR COURT? (PROCEDURAL
HISTORY): What happened to the case in the court(s) below (trial court, state appellate court, federal district court, etc.)? Who won and who lost in previous proceedings? You only have to provide this information to the extent it is provided in the case. No outside or additional research is required or expected. If the version of the case in our casebook does not include the procedural history, simply put N/A/ on the form for “not available”. (5 pts)

WHAT LEGAL PROBLEM IS THIS COURT BEING ASKED TO SOLVE? (ISSUE
QUESTION): Every appellate case exists because the court is being asked to answer or solve a
legal problem. Therefore, there is always a key question or questions the court is being asked to
answer. Those questions are called the “issues” of the case (sometimes called the Question
Presented in appellate briefs). Be careful here not to get overly broad. The issue is never going to
be: “should the evidence be admitted?” or “was the 4th Amendment violated?”. The issue is always going to be more narrowly related to the facts of the case. For example: “Does the fact that the defendant was underage and intoxicated limit his ability to consent to a search?”. Do not be surprised if you find yourself repeating some of the facts in the issue question. That is usually a sign that you are on the right track with the question. (5 pts)

Also, the court itself will often give you a clue by the signaling the issue by the use of the term “whether”. Feel free to use this issue question word for word (just cite to the page number). If the
U.S. Supreme Court is nice enough to provide us with the issue, who are we to argue?

HOW DID THE COURT ANSWER THE ISSUE QUESTION? (ANSWER/HOLDING):
This is the answer to your issue question above. If the issue question has been written correctly,
this should either be “yes” or “no”. You do not need to repeat the question in your answer. (2.5 pts)

WHY DID THE COURT ANSWER THE ISSUE THE WAY IT DID? (REASONING): Do
not skimp here. How did the court use the facts of the case as well as statues or previous cases to
come to its answer? Be specific even if you end up repeating some of the facts from the section
above. Here in this section, I am looking for your own words and a summary of the Court’s reasoning with cites to the examples of the wording of the Court. Unlike the FACTS section, a long string of uninterrupted quotes without context is not appropriate. (5 pts)

DO YOU AGREE WITH THE COURT’S DECISION? Why or why not? (5 pts)

Note: Please remember to include the page numbers showing where in the case you found your information for each section.

Cases to brief:
Choose any 1

Gideon v. Wainwright; Faretta v. California; Strickland v. Washington; United States v. Wade; Perry v. New Hampshire

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