Case briefs are exactly what their name suggests: brief yet structured summaries of a court opinion. Generally one page in length, briefs are effective study tools for law students and are useful for interpreting common law. They include basic information about the case such as date, court level, and title, plus allegations by the plaintiff and defendant, case facts, any issues the case deals with, and the court’s decision. Briefing is especially helpful for policy practitioners because it encourages a focus on the most important elements of a case, and fosters an understanding of the implications of a court’s decision.

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To prepare for this assignment:

 

  • Review Chapter 7 in Principles of Legal Research and Chapter 3 in Legal Research Methods. Familiarize yourself with case law sources and strategies for using them.
  • Review Chapter 6 of your course text, Principles of Legal Research. Focus on section 6.3, ” Features of Published Cases,” which details elements of reported opinions.
  • Review the article, “How to Read a Legal Opinion: A Guide for New Law Students.” Consider the information you should gather when analyzing a case.
  • Review the articles, “How to Brief a Case” and “The Critical Thinker’s Case Briefing Model.” Focus on the purpose and elements of a case brief.
  • Use the LexisNexis Academic database, and search for Conti v. ASPCA by case name, using the Federal & State Cases Combined Source.

 

The assignment: (1–2 pages)

 

  • Write a case brief of Conti v. ASPCA. In your brief, identify each part of the case.
  • Explain the rule of law that emanates from the case.
  • Note: LexisNexis Academic provides the researcher with editorial enhancements at the beginning of the case. They can help researchers understand the case. The court’s opinion begins after the title OPINION. That is where you should begin your reading of the case to complete your brief.

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