Writing a brief

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Write a case brief following the specific instructions of this assignment.


People v. Thomas, Supreme Court of California, 1945

You can find the case on the link: https://law.justia.com/cases/california/supreme-court/2d/25/880.html (Links to an external site.)

Or, the case is attached to this assignment prompt in Loud Cloud as a PDF file for you to print out


Case law is written when a court of law takes the law (more case law or statutory law) as it exists at a particular point in time and applies that law to a specific set of facts. All case law contains essentially the same parts:

  1. Case name, Court, Year, Publication information (this is the case citation)
  2. Holding
  3. Procedural History
  4. Facts
  5. Issues
  6. Rules of Law
  7. Analysis

The definitions of each part of a case are described below in more detail. The purpose of a case brief is to take these parts and put them in a more condensed and concise format. A brief is concise, but at the same time, the essential information from the case must be included.

To prepare a case brief, you must perform a “close reading of the case.” Make a copy of the case you will brief. This is your working copy for you to “annotate.” Annotating is a tool used for close reading—Annotating is simply taking notes in the margins and highlighting the key elements of the writing. Often paralegals annotate cases noting the key components of the case so that later they can quickly compile those elements in their case brief. Here are some common annotations (but you are free to do whatever works for you):

  1. Procedural History=PH
  2. Facts=F
  3. Issues=I
  4. Rules of Law=RL
  5. Analysis=A
  6. Holding= H (I usually star or highlight the holding in a case.)

Each of these items (a-f) is defined below for you. The more you practice, these terms will become second nature to you. Don’t give up! This takes practice.

Format for Brief

(The order varies depending on the instructor or managing attorney, but for this project, please follow the order below):

  1. Case Name, Court, Year
  2. Holding
  3. Procedural History
  4. Facts
  5. Issues
  6. Rules of Law
  7. Analysis
  8. The brief should be double-spaced, 12-point font, with one-inch margins on all sides of the document. Be sure to put your name at the top of the Brief.

How to Write a Case Brief

  1. Place the case name, court, and year (the case citation) at the top of the page. The sections that follow are written as a separate paragraph that immediately identifies which part of the case is being discussed.
  2. Holding: The holding is the court’s ultimate resolution of each issue raised in a case. For a case with multiple issues, each issue is listed with its resolution/holding. Each holding is stated concisely not as an extended discussion
  3. Procedural history: The procedural history is an explanation of how the case traveled through each court: name of the court, who sued who, and a concise (one or two sentence) outcome as to what happened in each court.
  4. Facts: Facts are clearly, concisely, and accurately stated. Included are only facts that are relevant to the court’s ultimate decision or holding. The facts are stated as a story to be told. Party names and party roles are included in the statement of the facts.
  5. Issue: The issue is the question or questions that the court has to resolve. Typically the issues statement begins with the word Whether and ends with a period because this is a statement of the issue.
  6. Rules of law: In order to arrive at its ultimate decision on the issues presented, the court will identify one or more rules of law that it is using in the case. The court may rely on a constitutional reference, statutory reference, and other cases.
  7. Analysis: Here the court will take the rules of law it is relying upon and apply those rules to the specific facts of the case at hand. This is the court’s analysis, not your analysis. The simple case brief never includes the paralegal’s/lawyer’s opinions about the case. It is simply an organized report of the case.
  8. Correct grammar, sentence structure and spelling should be used.
  9. The brief should use the Blue Book style for legal citation—but as many of you have not yet taken Legal Research and Writing, I simply ask that you add page numbers or paragraph numbers where you found the information you are referring to in the brief.
  10. Other formatting requirements met: Word document, double-spaced, 12-pt. font, 1 inch margins.

Submission Requirements

  1. You will upload your brief as outlined above. No email submissions will be accepted. The due date is satisfied when the draft is properly submitted in Loud Cloud.
  2. All coursework should be typed on a “Word” or “Microsoft Word” word processing program. Pages, Notes, .tiff files, .pdf, files and other writing programs are often incompatible with Loud Cloud and/or prevent the instructor from offering digital feedback to the student. Moreover, these other programs do not have the capabilities for more advanced document formatting you will eventually do as a Paralegal. Please note that points may be deducted for use of other programs in the submission of your assignments.
  3. Unfortunately, technology failures are a part of the paralegal’s daily operations but deadlines still must be met. It is the student’s responsibility to have a backup plan for failed technology and deadlines will not be extended for technology failures. Give yourself plenty of time to complete assignments and meet deadlines considering the possibility of your technology slowing you down at some point. Your “Course Path” (also known as “Path”)—the menu on the left side of your Loud Cloud screen that lists your course work, assignments, and lessons, includes a tab “Technical Support.” Here, you will find a link for the website: EGCC Tech Support (Links to an external site.). If you cannot access this link directly from this page, copy and paste the web address into your browser. This site includes helpful information for problems with technology as well as a phone number, 1-877-654-8638, to call if you are still have trouble. See the site for further information.

2. 3.1 People v. Thomas__ Justia.pdf


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