Case Brief Project
A) Case Brief: You will be assigned a case during the second week in class. If you have completed the 5 areas of topical interest in Week 1, chosen from https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/cases/topic.htm ,that will be used as input to assign a case to you. You will then research and prepare a written presentation according to the format below. The written presentation is a 20-point assignment.
B) Research: You are welcome to use any website to research your case and borrow from them significantly. However, you must cite any website from which you “borrowed” more than three words; there will be point deductions if you use a website and do not disclose it on your brief. By no means is your research combined to just “legal” websites, but some of the most popular legal websites from which students have found information on the cases are:
If you borrow from a website, you have to understand it. So if it refers to other cases, and you write it in your brief, you will be held to an understanding of what you wrote— which means that you may have to understand the other case. So, for instance, if your
case involves “zoning” you must understand from your research what zoning means.
Information is freely available online, and Dr. Jack is also a resource for you if you do not
C) Organization and Rubrics: The written presentation should be completed as follows:
1) Case citation; this will include where the case can be found in the law library and the
year; see example from Miranda v. Arizona, below (1 point if fully completed).
2) Brief facts of the underlying dispute (usually found in the first few paragraphs of the
majority opinion) (2 points if fully completed).
3) What was the issue before the court? This is what they were deciding; should
include the constitutional issue or provision over which they had to deliberate. (2
points if addressed completely).
4) What was the holding of the case? (What is the final ruling of the court)? This
should include how they resolved the constitutional issue. (2 points if addressed
5) What “school of jurisprudence” does it appear that the majority opinion represents
and why? Our slides in Week 1 outline the different schools of jurisprudence, and
they are covered in your textbook as well. This should be one paragraph. (3 points if
addressed completely—1 point for identifying a school we have discussed, 1 point
for defining that school, and a third point for your back-up “proof” to show that is
6) What “school of jurisprudence” does it appear that the dissenting opinion
represents and why? If there is no dissenting opinion, find criticism of the case on
the internet and how that could be interpreted to a “school of jurisprudence” (3
points if addressed completely—1 point for identifying a school we have discussed, 1
point for defining that school, and a third point for your back-up “proof” to show
that is that school).
7) Do you agree with the utilization of the school of the majority or the dissent and
why? This should be one paragraph, (3 points if addressed completely–1 point for
identifying with one of the schools, another point with describing why this kind of
case should have utilized that school, and an additional point for identifying why the
other opinion’s school was inappropriate to this case).
8) What is the significance of this case to us in our daily lives today? This should be one
paragraph. (4 points if addressed completely—2 points for discussing what the
holding means for similar situations today, and 2 points for discussing the impact the
holding has on our society beyond the limited set of facts upon which the holding is
If you have questions about how some of the this should look, please take a look at the
Miranda vs. Arizona Case Brief, below. Your textbook has case briefs that have some similar
aspects; feel free to refer to the textbook.
There will be up to a two-point deduction for any case brief that is not organized as specified
above, does not use legal terminology in a proper manner, and contain few spelling,
grammatical and/or syntax errors. Students will be held to the minimum expectation that they
have used the spelling and grammar check available in Word.
Here is an example of what those items might look like in your Case Brief Project
1. Miranda vs. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (1966)
2. “Ernesto Miranda was arrested in Phoenix due to circumstantial evidence that he had been
involved in a kidnapping and rape. He confessed to the charges following a lengthy
interrogation and signed a statement that said the confession was made knowingly and
voluntarily. Miranda never was told of his right to remain silent, of his right to have a
lawyer, or of the fact that any of his statements during the interrogation could be used
against him in court. He objected to the introduction of the written copy of his confession
into evidence at trial, stating that his ignorance of his rights made the confession
When the objection was overruled, Miranda was convicted of the kidnapping and rape at
least in part because of the written confession, and he was sentenced to 20-30 years in
prison. An appeal based on the confession’s allegedly involuntary nature was rejected by
the Arizona Supreme Court.” See https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/384/436/
3. The Supreme Court stated the issue as “the admissibility of statements obtained from an
individual who is subjected to custodial police interrogation and the necessity for
procedures which assure that the individual is accorded his privilege under the Fifth
Amendment to the Constitution not to be compelled to incriminate himself.” (pg. 440 of the
4. “Under the Fifth Amendment, any statements that a defendant in custody makes during an
interrogation are admissible as evidence at a criminal trial only if law enforcement told the
defendant of the right to remain silent and the right to speak with an attorney before the
interrogation started, and the rights were either exercised or waived in a knowing,
voluntary, and intelligent manner.” See
5. Identification with the vulnerable is the school of jurisprudence that seems to be
represented in the majority opinion. That school focuses on the fairness in society for all of
us and looks out for disenfranchised groups in particular. The majority believed that a
police interrogation is such an intimidating situation for an accused person who has not yet
been convicted, and the tactics used to extract a confession so inherently unjust given our
Constitution, that greater support was necessary to support our presumption of innocence.
They wrote of their concern that unless there were very specific guidelines regarding
custodial interrogations, brutal police tactics could never be entirely eliminated. They
further conceded that such tactics lowered the esteem the public would hold for the
criminal justice system.
6. SIMILAR TO 5, ABOVE, BUT YOU IDENTIFY THE SCHOOL OF JURISPRUDENCE OF THE
MINORITY OPINION AND FOLLOW WITH YOUR REASONING.
7. YOUR OPINION, DISTINGUISHING 5 FROM 6, AND CHOOSING BETWEEN THEM BASED ON
THE SCHOOL OF JURISPRUDENCE USED.
8. Miranda puts the burden on law enforcement in a custodial situation to apprise those who
are arrested of their rights, putting limits on the amount of pressure that can be exerted on
an alleged perpetrator to confess to a crime without the presence of their counsel. It
provides greater support for our constitutional right not to incriminate ourselves as well as
the constitutional principle that we are innocent until proven guilty.
The broader implications are critically important in light of current events. Many feel that
our criminal justice system has embedded systemic racism, meaning that some
disenfranchised groups suffer disproportionately. Miranda may alleviate some of that
systemic racism, if it exists, by giving support for the accused. It does mean, however, that
some people who may be “guilty” may be let free because the police have not
appropriately followed the proper procedures. But that reflects a societal judgment
perhaps that it is better to let one guilty person go free than have unfair procedures that
may take freedoms from many innocent people. For more information on A Case Brief Project visit this: https://www.encyclopedia.com/management/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/case-method-analysis
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