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COMM 4371- Communication Law & Society: How to Brief (Summarize) Decisions

How to Brief (Summarize) Decisions: Web-based resources

How to Read a US Court Opinion

Identifying Parts of a Case Briefing in Databases

Supreme Court Case Parts:

LexisNexis Academic

 

Citation Signals: Tell you what kind of “treatment” the decision has received: Positive, Cautionary, Neutral, Negative, or none. Here you will get the Prior History, which tells you which court the case came from, if the case has been overturned, reaffirmed, or questioned.

Core Terms: are cataloging keywords or tags that are assigned to this case.

LexisNexis® Headnotes: points of law or rules of opinion made in this case.

 

Outcome (Also called Disposition): refers to a court's final determination of a case or issue. Three things can happen here. 1) The court Affirms a case, allowing the lower court’s opinion to stand; 2) they can Reverse, Void or Vacate: overruling a lower court’s ruling; or they can 3) Remand: send the case back to a lower court for a retrial.

- Sometimes it will give you the vote count and the vote breakdown.


Prior History: This brief notation tells you which court sent the case to the Supreme Court. Initially, the Supreme Court receives a writ de certiorari, a petition to hear a case previously decided in a lower court, and if they decide to hear a case, they request all the documents of that case from the lower court. If they hear a case, no new evidence is introduced, they just review the case and make a decision.

Procedural Posture: tells you how the previous court has ruled on a matter.

Syllabus/Overview: gives you a brief summary of the facts, legal issues and what the court decided.

 

Supreme Court Case Parts:

WestLawNext: Campus Research

 

Citing References- This tab section will tell you whether this case has been cited by later cases or sources.

Disposition (located below the summary): refers to a court's final determination of a case or issue. Three things can happen here. 1) The court Affirms a case, allowing the lower court’s opinion to stand; 2) they can Reverse, Void or Vacate: overruling a lower court’s ruling; or they can 3) Remand: send the case back to a lower court for a retrial.

History Tab: Tells you which court the case came from, if the case has been overturned, reaffirmed, or questioned.
Initially, the Supreme Court receives a writ de certiorari, a petition to hear a case previously decided in a lower court, and if they decide to hear a case, they request all the documents of that case from the lower court. If they hear a case, no new evidence is introduced, they just review the case and make a decision.

Opinion- articulates the courts official decision.    

Syllabus/Overview: gives you a brief summary of the facts, legal issues and what the court decided.

Site Key Flags: Tell you what kind of “treatment” the decision has received: Yellow flag= negative history, but case not reversed; Red Flag = case no longer a good law.

WestKey Number System/ West Headnotes (listed by number): points of law or rules of opinion made in this case.

 

 

Anatomy of an Article: Reading a Supreme Court Opinion/Case

Directions: Using your mouse, hover the cursor over highlighted parts and find the tags to open an informational mini pop-up window.

How to Shepardize a case using LexisNexis and Westlaw databases

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