A court uses specific components in case law.

How to Read Case Law:A court uses specific components in case law. You should use these components when you brief, orsummarize, case law. Each component is detailed below in “The Components of a Case.”As you read case law, try to identify each of the six components listed below. This identification processslows your reading, but it helps you stay focused on what you are reading and what you should be lookingfor as you read case law. The key is to read wisely and try to read a case only one time. For eachparagraph, you should be able to list one or more of the components in the margin. If you cannot, go backand reread the paragraph.Please note: Much of your reading for this course may seem overwhelming. However, there are somethings you can do to remain focused and to read with purpose. Most U.S. Supreme Court cases are wellwritten. The authors understand the use of topic sentences. Try this: Read only the first sentence of eachparagraph in the case; do not take notes, do not underline, and just read the first sentences. This onlytakes a few minutes, but readers usually reap great rewards from this process. A good legal writerprovides the most important information at the beginning of each paragraph. In most instances, you willpick up the key facts and key rules (law). By reading only the first sentence in each paragraph, youacquire an overview of the case. You may not understand why the Court held as it did, but you will have ajump-start on what the case is all about.The Components of a Case:1. Syllabus and Head Notes: At the beginning of many cases, there will be a syllabus and a summary ofthe case and its holdings. The summary should be used with caution, as its use varies from jurisdiction tojurisdiction. In some jurisdictions, the syllabus is the law of the case, and the opinion is merely a detailedexplanation of the syllabus. In other jurisdictions, the headnotes are merely editorial comments of thecourt reporter or the publishing company that prints the case, such as the West Publishing Company.2. Procedural History: This information is usually located near the beginning of the case. It is sometimescalled “judicial history.” The Court explains how the case worked its way to this court. Many cases begin ina trial court, and then move on to appeal. Most of the “reported cases” are appellate cases. Trial courtdecisions are usually not printed. If you have trouble tracing the procedural history, try listing the previouscourt proceedings in a time-line format.3. Facts: The facts are at the core of all cases. Your initial focus should be on the facts. It often helps tothink about the facts in light of what happened before this matter became part of a judicial proceeding.When writing the facts section of a case brief, tell a story about people before the initial trial. Courts oftenprovide much more factual detail than you need to place into a case brief. Remember, a case brief is asummary of the case. The Court usually places the facts very near the beginning of the decision.4. Issue(s): The issue (or issues, as there may be several) is the question before the Court (which is theCourt writing the decision). It is important to remember that the issue on appeal is not the same as theissue presented to the lower court. For example, at the trial court level, the issue may involve the guilt orinnocence of a defendant. On appeal, the issue could involve a question of judicial error, but the issue onappeal will not involve the factual finding of guilt or innocence. In other words, did the judge make an errorthat must be corrected on appeal? Now, with that said, there will be times when unusual issues move upon appeal, but this is a good starting point for your understanding of legal issues.5. Rule(s) of Law: The rules are the law used by the Court. Rules usually originate in primary sources oflaw, such as the Constitution, statutes, rules or regulations, and case law. The rules are applied to thefacts of a case. The Court usually goes to great lengths to make sure readers understand exactly why acertain outcome was reached. Some paragraphs in case law decisions contain only procedural history oronly facts. A rule of thumb: When you read a paragraph containing law, it is probably an analysisparagraph. The rule sets out the legal test that the court uses to make a decision. The more difficultparagraphs contain law, facts, and explanation or reasoning. These paragraphs are usuallyreasoning/analysis paragraphs. 6. Reasoning/Analysis: This is the core of case law. The reasoning of a court is at the center of everydecision. The reasoning or analysis component is very important. Analysis is usually the lengthycomponent of a decision. A court explains its reasoning using the key facts and the relevant law. In ourlegal system, case law builds upon case law. Readers of case law must understand why a court reacheda specific decision.A court’s analysis combines: key facts law the court’s explanationRemember, readers have expectations. It is best to avoid surprise or confusion. A reader must understand which facts are most important, or key. A reader must understand which law was relied upon or followed by the court. A reader must understand the court’s reasoning.7. Holding(s) and the Court’s Order: The holding states that court’s conclusion or decision on theparticular legal issue. When you summarize the holding, try to keep it very concise. After the decisionabout the legal issue, the court either takes some action or it orders another court to take some action.Part 1: Using the information from “How to Read Case Law,” prepare a brief for each of the followingcases: Slaughterhouse cases Lochner v. New York Nebbia v. New York Ferguson v. SkrupaEach brief should be approximately one page in length, written in 12-point Times New Roman font. Aftereach brief, concisely discuss the importance of each case and the evolution of the case law over the 90year span of these decisions. Within your discussion, include all dissenting and concurring opinions.Part 1 of this assignment should be a minimum total of four pages. All outside sources used should beproperly cited in APA format.Part 2: Using your course textbook and credible Internet research (sites such as Oyez and Cornell LawInstitute — do not use Wikipedia, Answers, About…., or any unverifiable or unreliable sources),discuss the evolution of the takings clause using detailed and thorough discussion of relevant andimportant case law.Your essay should include a discussion of a minimum of three cases. Part 2 of this assignment should bea minimum of three pages in length written in 12-point Times New Roman font. All sources should beproperly cited in APA format.

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