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A case brief involves composing a brief analysis and summary of a specific law case that will assist in guiding a discussion in the classroom setting. A case brief is supposed to be crafted in an organized and clear way and indicate the parties to the analyzed case, the issues related to the case, the decisions of the jury and judges, etc.
While case briefs do always comprise the same details and info, the way in which the following details are highlighted in any case brief sample may differ. Therefore, you should ask your teacher or professor for specific guidelines or requirements.
In case you are eager to understand how the system of justice works on a basic level, it is of great significance to realize how to identify certain parties and how make distinctions between criminal and civil cases. Consider that in civil cases, the plaintiff files a lawsuit so as to take the defendant to court. It is worthwhile noting that on the other hand, in criminal cases, the government usually accuses the defendant of the crime committed and its prosecutor must prove that the defendant is really guilty of the indicated crime. In civil cases, the party, which has lost the case, may appeal to a higher court (known as the Court of Appeals) based on their contentions that the trial court judge has erred in his or her decision; though, not all the higher courts are supposed to consider an appeal.
Take into consideration that in civil cases, the party who has filed the appeal is referred to as the appellant. The opposing party is referred to as the appellee. It is essential to note that in criminal cases, the defendant has the right to appeal the sentence or verdict brought by the court. In other words, if the defendant is found not guilty, the decision is final and the prosecutor cannot appeal to overrule the verdict announced. The name of the party initiating the action in court – no matter the level of the court – always goes first in all the legal papers.
For example, if the bank (let it be Bank of Los Angeles sues a business owner (Jack Smith) over the unpaid credit debt, the case will be filed as Bank of Los Angeles vs. Smith. Let us imagine that Smith loses this case and decides to appeal. As the appellant, Smith is the one who can initiate the action as the petitioner, and thus in the Court of Appeals, the case must be changed to Smith vs. Bank of Los Angeles, with Bank of Los Angeles acting as the respondent.
A case brief can be either short or long, depending on the analysis that should be based on the task instructions and requirements.
The title comprises the two opposing parties, with the plaintiff (civil) or the government (criminal) which are supposed to appear the first in the case. As indicated, if the party that has lost appeals in the civil cases or the defendant in the criminal cases, and this party should appear the first in the appeal.
The citation is aimed at indicating how to seek the reporter of the case in. If you are not aware of the citation, you may still find it by looking for the title of the case.
This section entails summarizing the case, as well as providing important facts, as well as legal issues. It discusses the reasons behind the criminal proceedings or lawsuit, the parties to the case, and, details on the outcomes established in the lower courts, for examples, a conviction or sentence of the defendant in the initial court case, conviction upheld in the court of appeals, and then overrules by the US Supreme Court.
The legal issues or questions are related to the case are to be explicitly noted by the court. Consider that judges can sometimes misstate the issues as brought up by the opinion of the lower court, the parties, or grounded on the case nature. It is imperative to mention that all the constitutional cases usually deal with various issues or questions, some of which are relevant only to the lawyers and parties, or the general public. In some cases, the outcomes of the appellate case are determined by how the judge(s) interprets the US Constitution, specific laws, or judicial doctrines. It is essential that such info should be included and indicated in the quotation marks or underlined. Such a measure will help you whenever you are asked to look into the conflicting or debatable cases. Whenever discussing specific points of the case, a helpful and useful strategy is to phrase them as “no” or “yes” questions. This measure implies taking the time in order to frame questions in a needed way and establish the key case point, thus leaving no room for ambiguity or doubts.
A decision is the final outcome of a specific case. In particular, it is the response of the court to the legal issues that are brought up in by the parties to the case or even the court itself since it is to interpret the case. Sometimes, the courts can offer very short holdings, for instance, “case reversed or the case remanded,” whereas in other cases, the response may be very clear and comprehensive, in case it involves the interpretation of the US Constitution or the specific state’s jurisdiction, as well as judicial statues or doctrines. If the issues or questions have been framed in a clear manner, the holdings can be expressed with either a simple “no” or “yes” or be limited to very short statements grounded on the language utilized by the court.
Whenever the court renders a verdict, the majority should be explained to the reason for such a decision. The following points are supposed to be well organized in numbered sentences or clear paragraphs.
The judges may suggest a majority opinion, but they may also state a concurring point of view (that agrees with the decision, but for various reasons). They may also suggest a dissenting opinion that usually argues for why a majority opinion is not correct. It is essential to comprehend how every justice votes and if the decision has a political nature, whether the votes of the judges were consistent with the ideology of theirs grounded on former cases. Such info can assist in determining how they could vote in similar cases in the future where some of the similar questions could be touched upon.
In this final sub-section, the students should provide a bit deeper perspective on the case under consideration. In particular, they ought to discuss its significance, how it relates to other similar cases, whether it is a landmark case, what decisions taken by the judges dwell on the composition of that particular court, the logics behind the taken decisions, and how the outcomes have affected the society in general. For example, when it concerns Jim Crow laws, it would be of great importance to discuss how the judges managed to reach their decision within the modern context, as well as how the decisions taken righted such a wrong.
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