How to Prepare a Case Brief:
A case brief is made up of 6 parts: Case Name, Relevant Facts, Procedural History, Legal Issues, Holding and Reasoning.
It should be no more than 1-2 pages. The purpose of briefing is to parse a case down to its elements. This will allow you at a glance to immediately grasp and understand the legal issues, instead of having to re-read the entire case.
Part I: Case Name and Parties – The primary parties to the case.
Part II: Relevant Facts – This is where you summarize the important, material facts of the case. The important question that you want to answer is “What happened that brought these parties to court?”
For example, Defendant was responsible for providing the firework display after the Rockland Rockies baseball game over the July 4th weekend. Some of the fireworks were defective and instead of shooting into the air, shot forward onto the field injuring the groundskeeper.
Part III: Procedural History – This is the section that describes the prior history of this case. Describe who won in the court below.
For example, the trial court held that the Defendant, the firework company was not negligent and therefore not liable for the groundkeeper’s injuries. The appellate court affirmed.
Part IV: Legal Issue – What is the question presented in the case?
For example, Can a Plaintiff prevail on a claim under strict liability when a firework company discharged fireworks injuring Plaintiff even if the Defendant’s did not act negligently?
Part V: Holding – This is the brief answer or determination of the Court.
For example, Yes, the appellate court held that a firework company can be strictly liable despite not being negligent.
Part VI: Reasoning/Analysis – This is where the court applies the facts to the rule of law to see if the elements of the law are satisfied. The court explains why it decided the way it did. State the law and apply the facts to the law.
For example, a defendant can be held liable under strict liability when the defendant is participating in a dangerous activity. Here, the firework company was participating in a dangerous activity and therefore can be held liable without demonstrating that the defendant was negligent.