How to Brief Cases
To fully understand the law with respect to business, you need to be able to read and understand court decisions. To make this task easier, you can use a method of case analysis that is called briefing. There is a fairly standard procedure that you can follow when you “brief” any court case. You must first read the case opinion carefully. When you feel you understand the case, you can prepare a brief of it. Although the format of the brief may vary, typically it will present the essentials of the case under headings such as those listed below.
1 Citation. Give the full citation for the case, including the name of the case, the date it was decided, and the court that decided it. 2 Facts. Briefly indicate (a) the reasons for the lawsuit; (b) the identity and arguments of the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s), respectively; and (c) the lower court’s decision—if appropriate. 3 Issue. Concisely phrase, in the form of a question, the essential issue before the court. (If more than one issue is involved, you may have two—or even more—questions here.) 4 Decision. Indicate here—with a “yes” or “no,” if possible—the court’s answer to the question (or questions) in the Issue section above. 5 Reason. Summarize as briefly as possible the reasons given by the court for its decision (or decisions) and the case or statutory law relied on by the court in arriving at its decision.
An Example of a Brief Sample Court Case
As an example of the format used in briefing cases, we present here a briefed version of the sample court case that was presented in Exhibit 1A–3 on page 32. BERGER v. CITY OF SEATTLE United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 2008. 512 F.3d 582. FACTS The Seattle Center is an entertainment “zone” in downtown Seattle, Washington, that attracts nearly ten million tourists each year. The center encompasses theaters, arenas, museums, exhibition halls, conference rooms, outdoor stadiums, and restaurants, and features street performers. Under the authority of the city, the center’s director issued rules in 2002 to address safety concerns and other matters. Among other things, street performers were required to obtain permits and wear badges. After members of the public filed numerous complaints of threatening behavior by street performer and balloon artist Michael Berger, Seattle Center staff cited Berger for several rules violations. He filed a suit in a federal district court against the city and others, alleging, in part, that the rules violated his free speech rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court issued a judgment in the plaintiff’s favor. The city appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. ISSUE Did the rules issued by the Seattle Center under the city’s authority meet the requirements for valid restrictions on speech under the First Amendment? DECISION Yes. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision of the lower court and remanded the case for further proceedings. “Such content neutral and narrowly tailored rules * * * must be upheld.”
HOW TO BRIEF CASES AND ANALYZE CASE PROBLEMS
REASON The court concluded first that the rules requiring permits and badges were “content neutral.” Time, place, and manner restrictions do not violate the First Amendment if they burden all expression equally and do not allow officials to treat different messages differently. In this case, the rules met this test and thus did not discriminate based on content. The court also concluded that the rules were “narrowly tailored” to “promote a substantial government interest that would be achieved less effectively” otherwise. With the rules, the city was trying to “reduce territorial disputes among performers, deter patron harassment, and facilitate the identification and apprehension of offending performers.” This was pursuant to the valid governmental objective of protecting the safety and convenience of the other...
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