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What is a Case Brief?

A case brief is a condensed, concise outline-form summary of a court opinion. Hence, the term “brief.” It is generally used for more efficient self-study (it’s easier and more simple than re-reading a 100-page long case every time you want to refresh your memory about the case). It is also used to present the case to others (it’s easier and more simple than reading a 100-page long case verbatim). In other words, a case brief boils down a court opinion to the key elements and discusses the essence of the court’s opinion. These basic elements are the facts of the case, the particular legal issue that is at question in the case, the specific legal rule of law that is applicable to the case, the application of that rule of law to the facts of the case, and then the court’s holding/conclusion. With the exception of the specific rule of law (which should almost always be quoted), the case brief should be a summary and paraphrasing of the court’s opinion in your own words.

Model Case Brief Template and Sample:

 

Click for a Sample Case Brief

 

Group Assignment:

Complete a Case Brief for each of the following cases:

Miranda v. Arizona

Daubert v. Merrel Dow Pharmacueticals

Frye v. United States