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Author Topic: Critique my brief  (Read 3377 times)

conrad42

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Re: Critique my brief
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2009, 05:04:19 PM »
Thanks for all of the great advice.  I have one question- how are we, as beginning students in the law, actually supposed to be able to figure out why the law was included?  To me, all I see in this case is that airplanes aren't considered motor vehicles.  Is that really the big picture I am supposed to get out of this case?

First, it is typical that for the first few weeks you will read cases and completely miss the point. A big part of the first few weeks is understanding how to look at a case and find what is important for class. Just keep briefing and paying attention to class, and you'll eventually get it.

In the case you are briefing, it is irrelevant whether or not the airplane is actually a motor vehicle. Rather, this case illustrates a point about statutory interpretation and the judge's role. Specifically, an airplane probably fits the literal definition of the statute, or at least people can make reasonable arguments that an airplane fits the literal definition. But, did Congress intend airplanes to be covered? Does it matter what Congress intended? Does the policy behind this statute cover airplanes? If the judge is to be a faithful agent of Congress, where should he draw the line? If an airplane is not a motor vehicle, what about a motorized wheelchair? A hovercraft? etc. These are all issues you'll likely talk about for 30 minutes to an hour based upon this particular case, but in the end, it doesn't matter at all what this particular statute said or how this court came out. What matters is introducing you to these issues of judicial interpretation.

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Re: Critique my brief
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2009, 09:25:59 PM »
I would do whatever helps you remember the case best. Nothing wrong with what you have there if it works for you.

My MO is to write a two-liner unless it's a seminal case- just what I would need to get out of the case for the exam. Keep in mind that most (not all) older cases (70+ yrs old) are just there so you can see how the law developed- you probably won't be citing them on the exam unless there is a policy question.

I think most 1Ls waayyy over brief and miss the forest for the trees. Things like procedural history are often only useful if you get called on in class- which at most schools as no effect on your grades whatsoever.
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Re: Critique my brief
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2009, 10:31:41 AM »
These comments have all been very helpful- thanks alot.
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Re: Critique my brief
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2009, 01:01:59 PM »
If your going to be using MS OneNote as your note taking software create a “stationary” that you use as your brief stationary with all the headings already set out so all you need to do is fill in the blanks as you read then move that brief from your brief folder to whatever class folder it goes in like Torts. Like abrief template.

Using SBA’s headings is good to start with, you’re going to over brief at first its something every law students does at first, as you get better at your briefs will get smaller and smaller, but at first put in all the info you think you might need. If you prof never asks about procedural issues (where the case came from, how it go there, then you can leave it out).


In my Onenote brief template I had something like this format and would just fill in the blanks as I read:

CLASS: Torts, (then subsection of the torts book the case was in so I knew what type of rule to look for like “Intentional Torts”

CASE: Jones v. Smith, USSC 235 US 532 (1952) (then I would add the page of the case book, say p.123)

ISSUE: I would restate whatever was the MAIN issue/reason why I was reading this case. Often times there would be rules in there about torts duty, or torts negligence, but since I knew this was in the “Intentional Torts” section of the book I would look for the issue that dealt with an intentional tort. So lest say it looks like this case deals with the common law elements of the intentional tort of Assault. So I would write my own issues statement: “What are the common law elements of assault?”

FACTS: here I would list the pertinent facts that had to do with the issue of assault and its elements from the case. However you want to write them out, bullets, full stences, whatever you need to jog your memory.

RULES: Here I would put the one or two rules that came out of the case based on my issue that I targeted above. So I have narrowed down to reading this case for intentional torts, so I might not bother to put in the rules that have to do with negligence or duty if my professor is just the type to talk about the intentional torts that we are reading for the case. So my rule might look like this (here you can do one of two things copy the rule word for word from the book AND  then make your own words rule, try to do both at first). So my rule would look like this: Prima facia case of Assault requires: (1) Apprehension of (2) an immediate harmful or offensive contact, (3) Intent and (4) causation. That would be my basic rule than under that I would put any explaining rules under that the case had like: “must have apprehension, but does not have to be fear. Must be immediate words not enough. Assault varies from battery in that you don’t have to have contact like the latter, a swing and a miss is enough for assault if you had apprehension of getting hit.

REASONING: Here is where I would put why the court, based on the facts, came to the conclusion it did in this case
HOLDING: what the court ultimately held in this case

QUESTIONS: Anything I did not understand from the case I might want clarified in class.

You could add anymore headings you want but ISSUES/FACTS/RULES/REASONING should always be in there. I made it those four because I booked brief a lot with a four color pen so it was easy to assign each of those 4 things one color and standardized the way I book briefed and then just fill in the stuff in my written briefs.

Nice thing about using Onenote for this is that it allows you to have your brief on one side of the page and your class notes on the other so you can write in the rules you heard in class right next to your rules section in your brief without it screwing up the formatting of the brief. You can also set your tags to have a RULE tag that when you click the rule tag everything you right might be highlighted in yellow and be tagged with the Rule symbol. They at the end of the semester you can do a search in your Torts folder for all “rule tags” and Oneone will give you a list of all the things you tagged with rule form all your notes.

*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

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Re: Critique my brief
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2009, 02:19:42 PM »
Speaking of OneNote, is there any kind of generic OneNote clone that you can get for free/ cheap?  I would like to have a program like that, but my funds are already stretched quite a bit.  I know that Sun MicroSystems produces the open-source Open Office software programs that imitate the basic Microsoft Office package... anything like that for OneNote?
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Matthies

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Re: Critique my brief
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2009, 02:34:59 PM »
Speaking of OneNote, is there any kind of generic OneNote clone that you can get for free/ cheap?  I would like to have a program like that, but my funds are already stretched quite a bit.  I know that Sun MicroSystems produces the open-source Open Office software programs that imitate the basic Microsoft Office package... anything like that for OneNote?

You can usually find deals on MS Office Student/teacher version that includes onenote along with word, excel ect. for $99-129 on the web. You could try Evernote, its free but not near as good as onenote. You will need at least word to turn in most of your stuff anyway if you send it to your profs
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

Jamie Stringer

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Re: Critique my brief
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2009, 04:25:39 PM »
If you haven't already purchased your law school laptop or might be in the market for an upgrade to your software, you could always get OneNote (along with Microsoft Office 2007 programs) through Ultimate Steal. It's only $60.

http://www.microsoft.com/student/discounts/theultimatesteal-us/default.aspx
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chi2009

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Re: Critique my brief
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2009, 06:34:13 PM »
Thanks for all of the great advice.  I have one question- how are we, as beginning students in the law, actually supposed to be able to figure out why the law was included?  To me, all I see in this case is that airplanes aren't considered motor vehicles.  Is that really the big picture I am supposed to get out of this case?

First, it is typical that for the first few weeks you will read cases and completely miss the point. A big part of the first few weeks is understanding how to look at a case and find what is important for class. Just keep briefing and paying attention to class, and you'll eventually get it.

In the case you are briefing, it is irrelevant whether or not the airplane is actually a motor vehicle. Rather, this case illustrates a point about statutory interpretation and the judge's role. Specifically, an airplane probably fits the literal definition of the statute, or at least people can make reasonable arguments that an airplane fits the literal definition. But, did Congress intend airplanes to be covered? Does it matter what Congress intended? Does the policy behind this statute cover airplanes? If the judge is to be a faithful agent of Congress, where should he draw the line? If an airplane is not a motor vehicle, what about a motorized wheelchair? A hovercraft? etc. These are all issues you'll likely talk about for 30 minutes to an hour based upon this particular case, but in the end, it doesn't matter at all what this particular statute said or how this court came out. What matters is introducing you to these issues of judicial interpretation.

This is sound advice - and described in great detail in Getting to Maybe, which was the most helpful book I've read so far in preparing me for my first exams.

jd2012

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Re: Critique my brief
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2009, 10:20:57 PM »
Top cat heres my brief for the same case, tell me what you think. See you at orientation.


U.S Supreme Court
Mc Boyle v. United States, 283 U.S 25 (1931)



Facts:

Mc Boyle was convicted of  knowingly transported an airplane across the interstate from Ottawa,IL to Guymon, OK

He was charged with violating the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act. The NMVTA punishes anyone who transports or attempts to transport a knowingly stolen vehicle. A vehicle is defined as  “an automobile, automobile truck, wagon, motor cycle or any self propelled vehicle not designed for running on rails“.

He was convicted in trial court.

He appealed to the circuit court of appeals to the tenth circuit and the decision was affirmed.

He petitioned for a writ of certiorari and was granted by the Supreme Court.

Issues:

Is an airplane considered a “vehicle” under the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act?

Should the court punish the petitioner for violating a law that is not clearly defined? 



Holding:

Judgment reversed, petitioner wins

Reasoning:

Agreeing with the petitioner that congress had an opportunity to incorporate airplanes in the legislation, they explicitly list the different vehicles to be covered under the  act and choose to clearly omit that the transporting of an airplane is an offensable act under the NMVTA.

Understanding that the law was unclear about the types of vehicles covered under the act, the petitioner should be granted a warning for not having a reference for the offensable act.

Analysis:

The judge has set precedent that the law has an obligation to clearly set boundaries for the citizenry. If the law fails to draw the line,  then the accused can’t be held liable for violating such laws.

The court shouldn’t make assumptions about what congress intended the legislation to be

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Re: Critique my brief
« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2009, 07:10:35 PM »
Top cat heres my brief for the same case, tell me what you think. See you at orientation.


U.S Supreme Court
Mc Boyle v. United States, 283 U.S 25 (1931)



Facts:

Mc Boyle was convicted of  knowingly transported an airplane across the interstate from Ottawa,IL to Guymon, OK

He was charged with violating the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act. The NMVTA punishes anyone who transports or attempts to transport a knowingly stolen vehicle. A vehicle is defined as  “an automobile, automobile truck, wagon, motor cycle or any self propelled vehicle not designed for running on rails“.

He was convicted in trial court.

He appealed to the circuit court of appeals to the tenth circuit and the decision was affirmed.

He petitioned for a writ of certiorari and was granted by the Supreme Court.

Issues:

Is an airplane considered a “vehicle” under the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act?

Should the court punish the petitioner for violating a law that is not clearly defined? 



Holding:

Judgment reversed, petitioner wins

Reasoning:

Agreeing with the petitioner that congress had an opportunity to incorporate airplanes in the legislation, they explicitly list the different vehicles to be covered under the  act and choose to clearly omit that the transporting of an airplane is an offensable act under the NMVTA.

Understanding that the law was unclear about the types of vehicles covered under the act, the petitioner should be granted a warning for not having a reference for the offensable act.

Analysis:

The judge has set precedent that the law has an obligation to clearly set boundaries for the citizenry. If the law fails to draw the line,  then the accused can’t be held liable for violating such laws.

The court shouldn’t make assumptions about what congress intended the legislation to be

Some of the things you did, I like really well.  If you are who I assume you are (BH), then we should talk about getting a study group together... an LSD study group seems like a good idea.
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