AMU Formal legal brief: Burquet v. Brumbaugh, 223 CA4th 1140 BRIEF A CASE This week you will write a formal legal brief. Make sure to double space your as

AMU Formal legal brief: Burquet v. Brumbaugh, 223 CA4th 1140 BRIEF A CASE

This week you will write a formal legal brief. Make sure to double space your assignment.

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Brief a case that is family-law related.

See the attached documents for instructions on how to brief a case, a sample brief, and the grading rubric.

Legal case names should be done in standard “Blue Book” format. Example:
York v. Smith, 65 U.S. 294 (1995). For further information see http://www.law.cornell.edu/citation and look under the “How to Cite” section. Bluebook citation information is also found in the course materials section.

Your brief should be no more than 2 pages in length.

Case briefs are used to highlight the key information contained within a case for use within the legal community as court cases can be quite lengthy.

When writing case briefs, all information must be properly cited. Make sure you are not copying and pasting from your source. Most of the material should be paraphrased; quotations should make up no more than 10% of the brief. Note: since the purpose to is highlight and summarize key information, merely copying and pasting from the case does not accomplish this goal. You must summarize the facts in your own words, using quotations sparingly.

please see attachment for supporting materials Case  Brief  Rubric      Possible  100  points;    Deduction  of  10%  for  lateness;  Extension  must  be  obtained  
from  professor  in  advance.  
 
 
Zero  points  
awarded  in  any  
category:    the  
required  element  
does  not  exist  in  
the  brief  or  is  
unrecognizable  in  
the  brief  
Brief  Format  (10%)  
(maximum  10  
points  on  a  100  
point  scale)  
 
 
 
Beginning  
 
 
 
Developing  
 
 
 
Accomplished  
 
 
 
Exemplary  
0-­?4  points:  
Prescribed  format  
for  the  case  brief  
not  followed.  
8-­?9  points:    
Prescribed  case  
brief  format  is  
followed  with  
minimal  errors.  
Facts  (10%)  
(maximum  10  
points  on  a  100  
point  scale)  
0-­?4  points:      
Factual  statement  
is  incomplete  or  
erroneous,  
rendering  the  brief  
unusable  to  the  
reader,  at  least  in  
part.  
5-­?7  points:  
Elements  of  
prescribed  case  
brief  format  are  
missing  or  
incorrect.  
5-­?7  points:  
Important  facts  
are  missing  
and/or  
unnecessary  
detail  is  included;    
reader  is  
confused  by  the  
presentation.  
Issue  (10%)  
(maximum  10  
points  on  a  100  
point  scale)  
0-­?4  points:      
The  legal  issue  is  
incorrectly  stated.  
5-­?7  points:      
The  legal  issue  is  
identified  as  a  
general  topic  
and/or  is  stated  in  
an  overly  broad  
manner;  precision  
is  lacking.  
8-­?9  points:      
The  legal  question    
is  presented  
accurately,  but  
lacking  in  
precision  and/or  
is  not  framed  as  a  
question.  
Holding  (10%)  
(maximum  10  
points  on  a  100  
point  scale)  
0-­?4  points:      
The  court’s  
resolution  of  the  
legal  issue  is  
incorrectly  
5-­?7  points:      
The  court’s  
resolution  of  the  
legal  issue  is  
overly  broad  or  is  
8-­?9  points:      
The  court’s  
resolution  of  the  
legal  issue  is  
accurate  but  lacks  
10  points:    
Prescribed  case  
brief  format  is  
followed  
completely  with  
no  errors.        
10  points:      
All  key/relevant  
facts  are  
provided;  
additional  facts  
provided  only  as  
necessary  for  the  
reader  to  
understand  the  
decision  and  the  
court’s  analysis;    
facts  are  
presented  clearly  
and  concisely  
without  error  or  
confusion  
10  points:      
The  legal  
question  or  
questions  are  
correctly  and  
succinctly  stated  
and  the  Issue  is  
framed  as  a  
question.  
10  points:      
The  court’s  
resolution  of  the  
legal  issue  is  
correctly  and  
8-­?9  points:      
Most  key/relevant  
facts  are  
provided;    
irrelevant  facts  
are  omitted;  
statement  of  facts  
is  understandable  
to  the  reader.  
Case  Brief  Rubric      Possible  100  points;    Deduction  of  10%  for  lateness;  Extension  must  be  obtained  
from  professor  in  advance.  
 
presented  and/or  
inaccurate  in  
precision.  
succinctly  stated;    
the  holding  of  a  
some  regard.  
issue  and  holding  
different  court  is  
“match.”  
presented.  
Reasoning/Analysis   0-­?8  points:      
9-­?23  points:      
24-­?35  points:      
36-­?40  points:      
(40%)  (maximum  
The  court’s  
The  court’s  
The  court’s  
The  court’s  
40  points  on  a  100   reasoning  is  
reasoning  is  
reasoning  and  
reasoning,  
point  scale)  
erroneously  
presented  in  only   rationale  are  
analysis,  and  
presented.    
general  terms.  
accurately  
rationale  are  
presented;  some   presented  in  a  
analytical  detail  
complete,  
may  be  missing,  
succinct,  and  
but  there  are  no  
understandable  
errors.  
manner.    All  
relevant  
considerations  
are  included.  
Writing  Mechanics     0-­?4  points:      
5-­?7  points:    
8-­?9  points:      
10  points:    
Marginal  writing   Good  writing  
Excellent  writing  
(10%)(maximum  10   Poor  writing  
mechanics.  Brief   mechanics.  
mechanics.  
points  on  a  100  
mechanics  
contains  many  
Student  
(grammar,  
Student  
points  scale)  
distracting  writing   demonstrates  
demonstrates  
punctuation,  
mechanics  errors.     consistent  and  
consistent  and  
sentence  and  
paragraph  structure   Language  lacks  
correct  use  of  the   correct  use  of  the  
and  spelling)  render   clarity  or  includes   rules  of  grammar   rules  of  grammar  
some  use  of  
usage,  
the  brief  
usage,  
jargon  and  /or  
punctuation,  and  
punctuation  and  
unintelligible.  
conversational  
spelling,  with  a  
spelling.    
tone.      
few  minor  errors.     Language  is  clear  
and  precise.    
Sentences  display  
consistently  
strong,  varied  
structure.    
Bluebook  Citation   0-­?4  points:    
5-­?7  points:  
8-­?9  points:  
10  points:  
((10%)(maximum  
Citations  either  
Citation  is  present   Citation  is  in  
Citation  is  in  
10  points  on  a  100   nonexistent,  not  in   and  approximates   Bluebook  format   Bluebook  format  
Bluebook  format.     with  some  errors.       and  error-­?free.  
points  scale)  
Bluebook  format,  
Reader  can  find  
or  completely  
case  using  the  
ineffective.  
citation.  
 
 
How to Brief a Case
Prepared for the Legal Studies Program
American Public University System
December 2013
Introduction: A case brief is a concise summary of the significance of a case. It is a bit
like a “book report,” but with very special rules! It is a time-honored practice used throughout
the legal profession and law schools. As a teaching tool, the case brief forces the student to
identify and provide a written description of the most important aspects of a case. Legal
precedent, also known as Stare Decisis, is a doctrine which governs much of our legal process.
Under the doctrine, a prior court’s decision serves as “authority” for a subsequent court which
will address the same or similar issue. Therefore, understanding a court’s decision and the
rationale underlying it —- that is, how the judges arrived at their decision —- is essential to
the study of law. The case brief serves as a very useful vehicle by means of which to analyze
and understand judicial decisions.
A case brief is a tool by means of which to “capture” or outline the most important
aspects of a case. A case brief is not an invitation to re-write the opinion or to paste together
quotes from the court’s opinion. The brief should be written in your own words, based on your
understanding of the case. Of course, select quotes of the court’s words can be useful, if used
sparingly. A case brief should be concise; it should be no more than 1-2 pages. There are at least
several different methods or models for writing the case brief; these are based on personal
preferences. In the Legal Studies Program, however, the format described here will be used for
all of the case briefs which you are required to write in your courses. By using this uniform
format, you will gain familiarity with the case analysis and brief writing process.
Often, your textbooks will contain synopses of or abbreviated versions of courts’
opinions. When you want to understand a court’s decision, it is essential that you read the entire
opinion, rather than a mere summary. Therefore, the first step in the brief writing process is
always to thoroughly read the entire case. This includes reading any concurring and dissenting
opinions of members of the court. In this regard, be very sure that you are reading the entire
opinion! In some internet based sources, the Syllabus (headnotes/summary) of the opinion is
presented at one link, the majority opinion is presented at another link, etc. You need to read all
portions of the opinion as all of them are relevant to your analysis of the case. For example, if
there are strong dissenting opinions based on key legal points, this could predict what the court
might decide in the future on similar issues.
1. Case Name and Citation: As a header on the first page of your brief, you should state
the name of the case, identify each party’s role in the case, and give the full Bluebook style
citation to the case. (See Bluebook resources in the APUS library for more information about
Bluebook format.) It is essential that the reader of your case brief know who initiated the
litigation and who appealed. For example, in the sample case brief of the Delahanty case (see
accompanying materials), Thomas and Jean Delahanty are clearly identified as the plaintiffs
(parties who initiated the litigation) and as appellants (parties who sought appellate review of the
1
lower court’s decision). The full Bluebook style citation enables your reader to find the correct
legal reporter in which the opinion is found, the volume and page on which the case appears, and
the year in which the case was decided.
2. Facts: The Facts section is a short synopsis of the most important facts of the case.
“Important” means “relevant” to the issue before the court and to the decision of the court. Your
reader needs to know “what happened” to give rise to the litigation and needs to understand the
facts which were analyzed by the court. Although other factual details might be interesting, only
include them if they give the reader the “big picture” of what the case is about. Be sure to
include the nature of the lawsuit and the parties in the lawsuit. The goal in the Facts section is to
summarize the facts in such a manner that if someone did not read the court’s opinion, they
would understand the facts of the case.
3. Procedural History: The Procedural History section is a summary of previous
proceedings between the parties from the time the case was initially filed to the present. This is
important because most reported cases are appellate cases in which a previous decision was
rendered in a trial court. It is essential that you understand how the case arrived in the court, the
opinion of which you are briefing. Indeed, in many case brief assignments, you will brief an
Opinion of the United States Supreme Court; in those instances, the case will likely have been in
several different courts previously. It is important that you “track” who “won” at each level, and
that you understand that the losing party appeals to the next level of court.
The Delahanty case is an example of a somewhat unusual case, but the unusual nature of
the case is a good illustration of why the Procedural History of the case is so important. The
civil lawsuit was filed by the Delahantys in federal court (United States District Court in the
District of Columbia). Their case was dismissed and they appealed to the next level of federal
court (the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit). That federal
appellate court needed to obtain the view of the court in the applicable local jurisdiction (the
District of Columbia) on a specific legal question. In order to obtain that view, the federal
appellate court “certified” the legal question to the local court. The sample case brief is written
about the opinion which was rendered by the local court, the District of Columbia Court of
Appeals.
4. Issue(s): The issue should be a yes/no question which identifies the specific question
the court must decide in order to rule in the case. For example, “Are manufacturers and
distributors of Saturday Night Specials strictly liable for injuries arising from their criminal use
in the District of Columbia?” There may be more than one main issue that the court must decide.
If there are multiple issues, the issues should be set forth in a number format, such as “Issue 1”,
etc.
5. Holding(s):The Holding section succinctly states how the court answered the issues
presented. Typically it includes a yes/no answer followed by the issue presented written in an
answer format. It includes the legal principle relied on by the court. If there are multiple issues,
there must be a corresponding number of holdings.
2
6. Reasoning: This is a very important part of the brief. The Reasoning section
describes why and how the court reached its holding in the case. This may include an
application or revision of pre-existing legal principles, policy reasons and/or negative effects
resulting from a different court ruling. If there are both a majority and dissenting opinion issued
by the court, then this section should be broken down into subsections to reflect those opinions’
analyses. Likewise, if there is a concurring opinion, a brief description should be included in an
additional subsection. If there are multiple issues, there must be a corresponding number of subsections within the Reasoning section.
7. Decision: This section gives the Judgment rendered by the court. Describe the final
disposition of the case. Did the court affirm the lower court’s decision, reverse it, and/or remand
it for additional proceedings?
8. Comments: Is there anything else that should be mentioned about this case? Is it a
“landmark” case in the sense that the court significantly changed the law concerned a particular
issue? Was the court “divided”? Were there vigorous dissenting opinions? Do you see any
weaknesses/discrepancies in the court’s opinions?
For example, in the Delahanty sample brief, a useful comment would be that the case is a
good example of how appellate courts certify issues to other courts in order to obtain the legal
opinion of the other court on a particular issue.
3
Case Citation:
Delahanty v. Hinckley, 564 A.2d 758 (D.C. 1989).
Parties:
Thomas and Jean Delahanty, Plaintiffs / Appellants
John Hinckley, Defendant / Appellee
Facts: Thomas Delahanty was seriously injured when John Hinckley attempted to assassinate
President Ronald Reagan. John Hinckley used a “Saturday Night Special” in the assassination
attempt that was manufactured by R. G. Industries, a subsidiary of Roehm.
Procedural History: Appellants filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
against John Hinkley, R.G. Industries, the gun manufacturer, Roehm, the manufacturer’s foreign
parent company, and individual officers of Roehm, for injuries Appellant Thomas Delahanty
suffered when Hinkley attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. The District Court
dismissed appellants’ complaint against R.G. Industries, Roehm, and individual officers of
Roehm for failure to state a claim. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit certified the question of whether, in the District of Columbia, “manufacturers
and distributors of Saturday Night Specials may be strictly liable for injuries arising from these
guns’ criminal use” to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Issues:  
Issue 1: Whether, in the District of Columbia, manufacturers and distributors of Saturday Night
Specials may be held strictly liable for injuries arising from their criminal use?  
Issue 2: Whether established theories of tort law in the District of Columbia provide a cause of
action against gun manufacturers and distributors for injuries arising from the guns’ criminal
uses?  
Holdings:
Issue 1: No. Manufacturers and distributors of Saturday Night Specials are not strictly liable for
injuries arising from these guns’ criminal use.
Issue 2: No. Established theories of tort law in the District of Columbia do not provide a cause
of action against gun manufacturers and distributors for injuries arising from the guns’ criminal
uses.
Reasoning: Appellants advanced the following three theories in support of their position:
Issue 1:
a. Strict liability for sale of defective product
The court rejected this theory of liability because appellants put on no evidence that the weapon
Hinkley purchased and later used in the assassination attempt was in any way defective. Rather,
appellants argued that the manufacturers had a duty to warn of the dangers of criminal misuse of
the gun. The court found this argument unpersuasive, pointing out that a manufacturer has no
duty to warn because the dangerous nature of guns self-evident.
b. Strict liability for abnormally dangerous activity
Appellants argued that the manufacturer should be held liable because the Saturday Night
Special is “inherently and abnormally dangerous with no social value. The “abnormally
dangerous activity” doctrine had never been applied to gun manufacturers in the District of
Columbia. The Court rejected this application of the doctrine, since selling weapons is not an
abnormally dangerous activity “in and of itself.” In response to appellants’ reliance on Kelly v.
R.G. Industries, 304 Md. 124, 497 A.2d 1143 (1985), the court stated that it is not just cheap
guns that may potentially by used to commit crimes, and that the Maryland legislature had
specifically overridden the Kelly decision.
Issue 2:
While the general rule is that no tort liability exists for harm resulting from the criminal acts of
third parties, an exception sometimes comes in to play when a special relationship exists between
parties. Examples of such “special” relationships include landlord / tenant, hospital / patient, and
school / student relationships. The court declined to extend this special relationship status to gun
manufacturers and sellers / gun purchaser, as Appellants neither argued that any special
relationship existed, nor suggested any way that gun manufacturers could prevent their gun
purchasers from misusing the purchased gun for criminal acts.
Decision:
Affirmed. The court answered the certified question from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia. Traditional tort theories, such as negligence and strict liability, provide no
basis for holding a gun manufacturer liable for injuries caused by a buyer of the gun to a…
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