What is a case law brief?


Quick Answer

A case brief is a document prepared by law students to distill long and complex legal cases into a more usable format to review legal cases and study how the law is applied, according to class notes from Professor Carper at Sacramento State. Students use case briefs to have useful facts of the case easily available; understand any legal precedents set in the case; and make it easier to review the law while studying or looking up cases for reference.

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Full Answer

Case briefs state the facts; the legal questions or issues; the holding or ruling of the court; and the rationale or reason the court ruled the way it did, states Carper. In the rational section, students evaluate which facts were used in the ruling and which were discounted; the way the relevant laws were interpreted; prior cases that affected the outcome; and principles of public policy that may have applied to the case.

Another type of legal brief is an appellate brief. This type of brief is used in appellate court to argue that a legal decision be upheld or overturned, explains the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. These briefs are used for legal arguments but are not generally published.

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