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1. Title of the case, including citation. Exa: People v. King Kong 1 C. 3rd 69 (2003).
A. Procedural facts: Who is appealing, which court. Exa: King Kong appeals, court of appeals. (Note: in most criminal cases, it will be the defendant that appeals –the government can appeal very rarely because of double jeopardy).
B. Substantive facts: what happened in the case. Be “brief” here. Don’t state more information than you need. Exa: King Kong tumbled a building and killed three people. King Kong was prosecuted for murder. King Kong asked the trial court to set the murder charge aside, because he is an ape. The trial court failed to set the murder charge aside. King Kong appeals.
3. Issue: The question raised on appeal. Every appeal has grounds. The court must question the trial court’s actions. The issue is the point raised by the person appealing. Phrase your issue as a question. Exa: Should a trial court allow an ape to be prosecuted for murder?
A. Substantive holding: This is the “answer” to the issue question, which also becomes the case law. The substantive holding is the most important part of the case brief—it is what you are looking for when reading the case. Exa: A trial court cannot allow an animal like an ape to be prosecuted under a murder statute designed for humans.
B. Procedural holding: What the court does with the case, procedurally. The court has three choices; reverse, affirm, remand. Exa: Reversed, and remanded to the trial court for dismissal of all charges.
5.Rationale: Why the court did what it did. The reasoning and policy behind the court’s decision. Courts usually expound at length about why they reached a particular holding, because they don’t want to be reversed on further appeal. Exa: There are statutes designed to protect and inhibit animals, including apes. It is not legal to prosecute an ape pursuant to a statute designed for the prosecution of humans.