How to Write a Case Brief Paper
A case brief is a condensed, objective summary of a court case that includes the most important information and legal points of the case. It is used to help you understand complex cases and to analyze the reasoning and arguments presented by the parties. Here are the steps to write a case brief:
- Read the case: Start by thoroughly reading the case to understand the facts, the legal issues, and the reasoning behind the decision.
- Identify the parties and the court: Make note of the names of the parties involved in the case and the name of the court that heard the case.
- Identify the legal issue: Determine the legal issue(s) that the court addressed in its decision.
- Identify the facts: Summarize the most important facts of the case in your own words.
- Identify the decision and the reasoning: Write down the court’s decision and the reasoning behind it.
- Write the brief: Organize the information you have gathered into a brief, including the parties, the legal issue, the facts, the decision, and the reasoning behind it.
Format of a Case Brief:
- The title of the case and citation
- Parties involved
- The procedural history of the case
- Statement of the facts
- Issues presented
- The holding of the case (court’s decision)
- The reasoning behind the decision
- Dissent (if any)
Tips for Writing a Case Brief:
- Be concise and objective
- Focus on the most important information
- Use your own words to summarize the information
- Highlight the key legal concepts and principles
- Use headings and bullet points to organize the information
Example of a Case Brief:
Title: Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803)
Parties: William Marbury (Plaintiff) vs. James Madison (Secretary of State)
Procedural History: Marbury filed a writ of mandamus (a court order) against Madison, asking the Supreme Court to force Madison to deliver Marbury’s commission as a justice of the peace.
Facts: In 1801, President John Adams appointed Marbury as a justice of the peace in the District of Columbia. However, the commission was never delivered to Marbury, as Adams’ successor, President Thomas Jefferson, ordered Madison to withhold the commission.
Issues: Whether the Supreme Court has the power of judicial review, or the power to declare federal laws unconstitutional.
Holding: The Supreme Court held that it did have the power of judicial review, but also held that Marbury’s writ of mandamus was not the proper way to seek relief and that the portion of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that allowed Marbury to bring his case directly to the Supreme Court was unconstitutional.
Reasoning: Chief Justice John Marshall explained that the Constitution grants the Supreme Court the power of judicial review and that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Court held that the portion of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that allowed Marbury to bring his case directly to the Supreme Court was unconstitutional because it expanded the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court beyond what was established in the Constitution.
This is just an example of how a case brief can be written. You may choose to include more or less information depending on the specific requirements of your assignment.