A Court Decision


The Facts section (About 200-250 words):

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Identifies the plaintiff and the defendant,
Describes the events leading up to this suit, and the allegations made by the plaintiff in the initial suit.
First, read the whole case because you will not know which facts are legally relevant until you have read and deciphered the entire case. You want to provide enough facts for someone who knows nothing about the case to understand the court’s decision.

The Fact section is necessary because legal principles are defined by the situations in which they arise. You want to set out what happened to the plaintiff that created the lawsuit. Include in your brief only those facts that are legally relevant. A fact is legally relevant if it had an impact on the case’s outcome. For example, in a personal injury action arising from a car accident, the color of the parties’ cars seldom would be relevant to the case’s outcome. Similarly, if the plaintiff and defendant presented different versions of the facts, you should describe those differences only if they are relevant to the court’s consideration of the case.

Accept the facts as they are set out in the case. Do not add any facts or include your opinion.

ISSUE (No minimum word count):

The Issue section presents the central issue (or issues) decided by the court. This part of the brief is always presented as a question. What you are looking for is the legal question the court has tried to answer in this case. State the issue as a question.  Example:

Whether the owner of the car was negligent by texting while driving…?
State the issue cleanly and crisply. Avoid stating it in technical or procedural terms. Beginning your issue statement with “Whether” will allow you to focus your statement.

Sometimes the issue is made very clear in the opinion, where the court states the issue (e.g., “This case presents the question. . .”, “The issue in this case is . . .”). Once you identify the issue, use your own words to state it. Court opinions are often long, wordy, and filled with terms unfamiliar to undergraduates. As a result, putting the issue in your own words will help show you understand the issue.

HOLDING (No minimum word count):
How has this court resolved the issue? What was the outcome? What action did the court take?
Like the legal issue, the court’s decision or holding is probably clearly stated in the opinion (e.g., “We hold . . .” or “We find…”). You will probably find a more complete statement of the court’s holding toward the end of the case, after the court discusses its reasoning.
This should be a brief summary of the court’s decision. The holding answers the legal issue(s).

LAW (No minimum word count):

Next you will identify the rule of law that applies to the issue. What legal principal(s) has the court used to decide the case? Was this a case involving a breach of contract? Then the law is Contract Law – Breach. If a law is mentioned by the court state the actual law the court named. 

Was this a car accident and the court is looking at the negligence of the driver? Then the law is Tort law – Negligence. This can be stated very simply.

REASONING OR RATIONALE (About 200-250 words):

This is the longest section of your brief. Spend a lot of time here to really explain why the court reached the decision it did, what the arguments were that justified the holding of the court. This is the part of the brief where you will use critical thinking skills to explain why the court ruled the way that it did. This means that you need to analyze the court’s reasoning.

Make sure to summarize all the logical steps the court took in reaching its Holding. Keep in mind that the court’s rationale can come from several different sources, including case precedent, something particular in the facts, and/or public policy. Discuss the how and why the court applied the law to the specific facts of the case.

Use the Fact Scenario Below as your case

Fact Scenario

Bob Corona wanted to own a bar since the day he stepped in one. He opened Bob’s Beer Bash 5 years ago and found out how hard he had to work to keep it in operation. Bob decided that he did not want to spend his retirement dealing with all the stressful responsibilities of ownership. After his 5 years of ownership, he sold his business, Bob’s Beer Bash, to Joe Guinness. Joe agreed to allow Bob to continue to manage the bar. Joe did not change the name of the bar.

Joe authorized Bob to order certain items for the business such as beer, juice, soda, and napkins. Bob would order these items once a month to keep the bar stocked. Bob would place these orders by phone to World Imports, Inc. When the ordered items were delivered, Bob would sign the World Imports Inc. delivery form. Joe would then pay for the items in a timely and reasonable manner.

After a year of ordering these items from World Imports, Inc., Bob decided, on his own, that the Bar menu needed some ‘zip’! So, in addition to these authorized items, for 4 months Bob ordered expensive French wine, expensive cigars, and Russian caviar from World Imports, Inc. These new additions to the menu brought in a different class of customer that increased the bar’s revenue, as well as Bob’s tip jar.

These items were shipped from World Imports, Inc. each month to Bob’s Beer Bash, but the business was not able to pay for them. For the first 2 months, Joe paid for all of the purchases, primarily because the caviar had been selling so well at the bar. For the next 2 months Joe paid only for the items that he had authorized Bob to order.

World Imports, Inc. sued Bob’s Beer Bash. World Imports, Inc. claimed that Bob’s Beer Bash should have to pay for all the purchases made. Bob’s Beer Bash claimed that it should not be responsible for any of the purchases it had not authorized Bob to make.

Make sure to follow format below!!!

The case citation  – for example – Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). For more information on A Court Decision see this: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/law/supreme-court/united-states-supreme-court

A Court Decision

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