Interpreting Case Laws

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Case briefs are exactly what their name suggests—brief, yet structured summaries of a court opinion. Generally one page in length, briefs are effective study tools for law students and are useful for interpreting common law. They include basic information about the case such as the date, court level, and title, plus allegations by the plaintiff and defendant, case facts, any issues the case deals with, and the court’s decision. Briefing is especially helpful for policy practitioners because it encourages a focus on the most important elements of a case, and fosters an understanding of the implications of a court’s decision.

To prepare for this Assignment:

Review the article, “How to Brief a Case”.

Use the LexisNexis Academic database and search for Graham v. Connor (1989); Arizona et al. v. United States (2012); or Vartelas v. Holder, Attorney General (2012); or by case name using the Federal & State Cases Combined Source.

The Assignment: (1–2 pages)

Write a case brief of one of the following: Graham v. Connor (1989); Arizona et al. v. United States (2012); or Vartelas v. Holder, Attorney General (2012). IN YOUR BRIEF, IDENTIFY EACH PART OF THE CASE USING THE PYLE ARTICLE TEMPLATE.

Explain the rule of law that emanates from the case.

Note: LexisNexis Academic provides the researcher with editorial enhancements at the beginning of the case. They can help researchers understand the case. The court’s opinion begins after the title “OPINION.” That is where you should begin your reading of the case to complete your brief.

Support your response using the Learning Resources and other scholarly resources.


Article: Kerr, O. S. (2007). How to read a legal opinion: A guide for new law students. Green Bag, 11(1), 51–63.

Article: Pyle, C. (1999). How to brief a case. Retrieved from

Note: This includes a template that you will use in your Assignment.

Optional Resources


Quimbee: The Case Brief Database

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