Guidelines for Writing the Appellate Opinion Analysis
By Professor Arthur Reynolds
The following guidelines will enable you to prepare a suitable writing requirement based upon your research and discussion of an appellate judicial holding.
- Select a field of law of personal interest to you (professionally or simply personally) that also relates to our overall course objectives, that is, somehow relating to contractual, business, employment or regulatory matters within the health care delivery system.
- Use any search engine you are comfortable with to locate a suitable appellate opinion. You are also strongly encouraged to actually visit a law library or general reference library containing legal reference selections (e.g. legal encyclopedia or regional case reporters). Even Google, let alone www.findlaw.com and many others, can quickly locate current, interesting materials. The UMUC Library Course Guide is also very helpful----I urge you to use it!
- Appropriate judicial holdings include those of the US Supreme Court, highest appellate tribunals of the states or state intermediate appellate courts, or of the Federal courts of appeal. In addition, procurement and contracting opinions from the highest relevant appellate tribunals are also acceptable (e.g. Board of Contract Appeals). In Maryland, for example, opinions of the state Court of Appeals, Court of Special Appeals or of the 4th Circuit in Richmond are acceptable.
- I do not reward verbosity or prolixity! Concise analyses, properly crafted and lucidly discussed, are preferred. Your entire project need not (and should not!) exceed 4 to 5 pages, double- spaced typed, exclusive of footnotes, if any. Longer papers should be on a par with Oliver Wendell Holmes and John Grisham. “Filler” will meet with an icy, cold reception!
- KEY FORMAT OUTLINE: Please prepare your opinion analysis along the following briefing lines, more or less: a) Identify the case clearly (including tribunal and date); b) summarize the facts very briefly; what is the basis for the legal dispute before the court; in sum, what is this case all about in its distilled essence; c) discuss the court’s holding; d) analyze the tribunal’s analysis; how did the court justify its holding (and were there any dissents filed?); what was the stated relationship between the key facts cited and the applicable law used by the majority court opinion; and e) what does this case have to say to us about the legal “big picture”, that is, how does this case conform to or fit into the wider body of relevant law and precedents. Clearly, items d) and e) are the heart of this paper and should be the focus of your major efforts.
|Due By (Pacific Time)
||10/19/2013 12:00 am