- Case: what is the name of the case? Where can the full case record be found? In what year was the case decided?
- Facts: provide a summary of the incident that brought the case before the court. Include a description of the crime and the circumstances causing the earlier court’s decision to be appealed. **Describe what previous courts ruled on the case (if possible) and explain the ruling(s).
- Issue: What are the central legal issues the court must decide to arrive at a decision?
- Holding: What did the court decide? What is the outcome?
- Reasoning: Why does the court decide the way it does? What is its logic and analysis of the facts?
You also need to read and provide a summary of the majority and dissenting opinions (judges explain
the ruling and why they agree or disagree with it) under the “reasoning” section.
Questions to ask when reading a case: (taken from lawnerds.com)
Note: You do not need to answer these questions in the order written to complete the assignment. They must all be items you consider during when reading the case.
- What facts and circumstances brought these parties to court?
- Are there buzzwords in the facts that suggest an issue?
- Is the court deciding a question of fact - i.e. the parties are in dispute over what happened - or is it a question of law - i.e. the court is unsure which rule to apply to these facts?
- What are the non-issues?
- What are the elements that prove the rule?
- What are the exceptions to the rule?
- From what authority does it come? Common law, statute, new rule?
- What's the underlying public policy behind the rule?
- Are there social considerations?
- Which facts help prove which elements of the rule?
- Why are certain facts relevant?
- How do these facts satisfy this rule?
- What types of facts are applied to the rule?
- How do these facts further the public policy underlying this rule?
- What's the counter-argument for another solution?
- What's the holding of the case?
- Has the holding modified the existing rule of law?
- What is the procedural effect of the holding? Is the case overturned, upheld or remanded for retrial?
- Does the holding further the underlying policy of the rule?
- Do you agree with the outcome of the case?