Massachusetts v. EPA (p. 530 – 9th ed. / p. 575 – 8th ed.)
A case brief distills the essential aspects of a judicial decision. Writing briefs helps students to understand and remember judicial decisions. Briefs written for this class should be no more than 500 words and should follow the format indicated below, using either paragraphs or bullet points under each heading. A brief should be based on the assigned case as it appears in the textbook or in the material posted on EEE. Briefs should be written in plain English. Avoid legalese and know the meaning of every word in your brief. The grade for the brief will be based on the clarity, accuracy, and concision of the brief.
Please note that consulting material that has not been assigned (e.g., Wikipedia) will probably be a waste of time, at best. Many case summaries available online contain inaccuracies, do not follow the format specified below, or refer to unedited versions of the cases. Consulting unassigned material is not prohibited, but points will be deducted from briefs that cover anything excluded from the assigned material. If you do consult material other than the assigned version of a case, you must provide a citation for the additional material. In addition, you must place any quotations within quotation marks. Failure to cite or quote sources will result in a zero on the assignment, in addition to potential disciplinary action.
Format for Case Briefs:
Caption: Case name, court issuing the decision, year of decision.
Parties: Names of parties and brief description of their role in the case. (Note that the names of the parties may not be identical to the names in the caption.)
Facts: What events initially brought the parties to court? (Describe only observable events; Try to avoid stating the law.)
Procedural History: How did the case get into this court? What was the decision of the lower court (or courts)? How does this court’s ruling affect the decision (or decisions) below?
Issue (or issues): What question (or questions) does the court answer in this case? Frame each issue as a yes-or-no question.
Holding: How does the court address the issue (or issues)?
Reasoning: What is the court’s rationale for the holding?Rule: What general rule of law does the holding articulate?
Rule: What general rule of law does the holding articulate?