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PA201 Introduction to Legal Research Unit 3 – The Parts of a Case

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1 PA201 Introduction to Legal Research Unit 3 – The Parts of a Case
A. E. Sloan (2009). Basic Legal Research Tools and Strategies (4th ed.). New York: Aspen Publishers

2 REVIEW OF UNIT 2 Constitution – Federal and State
Statute – how it becomes a law Organization of Codes (Title, part, section, chapter) Official (published by government) vs. Unofficial (published by commercial entity)

3 REVIEW OF UNIT 2 (cont.) Annotated (has summaries of cases and other sources) vs. Unannotated (no summaries) Authority of Court Decisions (trial court, appellate court and supreme court) Citing Constitutions (U.S. Const. amend. XX)

4 REVIEW OF UNIT 2 (cont.) Citing Statutes (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ (2000).) Search of Statutes on State Websites

5 CHECKLIST FOR UNIT 3 Review the unit introduction and key terms
Read Chapter 4 in Basic Legal Research Tools and Strategies Learn about case anatomy Learn about how to brief a case using the FIRAC method Review the sample case briefs

6 CHECKLIST FOR UNIT 3 Learn about and practice Bluebook Rules 10.3 and 10.9 Participate on the Discussion Board Complete and submit the Written Assignment Take the Unit 3 Quiz

7 Court Opinions Court Opinions or Decisions are also known as Cases
Important to understand the information provided in order to understand the case

8 FIRAC Method of Research and Writing
FIRAC is an acronym for: Facts Issues Rule of Law Analysis Conclusion Every case brief includes each piece.

9 FIRAC Using this method, you can create a case brief.
That simply means an outline of the case, used for studying, sending a memo to your supervising attorney, etc. This breaks down a court decision into a more readable form.

10 Facts What are the facts of the case?
In this section you should briefly describe: The parties to the dispute What led them to court In the case of appellate proceedings, the procedural history of the case

11 Facts (cont) Sorting out the parties and their status is an important part of understanding a case. You should limit your discussion of what happened to the relevant facts, those things that made a difference to the court in arriving at its holding (decision)

12 Issues What are the Issue(s) in the case?
The issue (or issues) before the court is the question at the heart of a dispute, which the court is called upon to settle.  Understanding the issue is arguably the most important part of a case brief, because if you don’t understand the question, you will miss the answer, and perhaps overlook a case that could be helpful to your research. 

13 Issues (cont.) In many cases, the opinion states the issue in unambiguous terms.  Look for sentences that begin with phrases such as “The question to be decided by the court…” or “The issue in this case is…”  If the opinion itself does not spell out the issue, perhaps the overview of the case prepared by the publisher or the Syllabus prepared by the court official will designate it for you. Some law firms follow the practice of providing brief answers to each issue (such as “yes” or “no”), following the listing of issues. “

14 Rules What are the rules (rule of law) that apply to the case?
This part of the case sets forth the relevant statutes, regulations, ordinances, or common law principles that the court applies in arriving at its decision.  It is not enough to simply list the applicable rule, but to also mention any exception or defense that the court applied.

15 Analysis What is the analysis of the case?
In this section, you will describe the argument that each party presented and how the court responded and applied the facts to the relevant law. If there were any facts that the court found “controlling” or “dispositive” (i.e., made a difference), be sure these facts have previously been mentioned so that the conclusion falls into place. 

16 Analysis (cont.) Describe the court’s reasons for the decision:
What policy considerations were behind its decisions?   Did the court describe any flaws in existing law or announce any changes its decision would bring about? If there were any concurring or dissenting opinions, as there often are in Supreme Court cases, identify the author and briefly summarize that justice’s position.

17 Conclusion What is the conclusion?
Briefly state the final outcome of the case.  In an appellate opinion, that would include the disposition: how the opinion being appealed was affected (e.g., affirmed, modified, reversed and remanded, vacated, etc.).

18 FIRAC The FIRAC method is used universally
Once you become familiar with it, it will become second nature to you It is the best way to organize legal writing


20 Anatomy of a Published Case
What does that mean?

21 Anatomy of a Published Case
Case Name Court Editorial Summary Headnotes The attorneys The judges The court's opinion (See pg of your textbook)

22 Anatomy of a Published Case

23 Anatomy of a Published Case

24 Anatomy of a Published Case

25 UNIT 3 – PARTS OF A CASE Whew…that’s a lot of new information for many of you. What questions do you have? Don’t be frustrated….this is a lot of info at once. You’ll get used to this the more cases you read and look at!

26 Written Assignment Download LeGrand v. Area Resources for Community and Human Services.  Identify the following parts of the case:  case name, court, jurisdiction, volume number of the case reporter where the case is found, name of the reporter, first sentence of the statement of facts, holding of the case and conclusion.

27 Collins Fact Pattern You should now have some information to start working on the Collins Fact Pattern Use what you have learned thus far to start working on the Course Project And of course if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

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