Guidelines for Writing the Appellate Opinion Analysis, Memorandum

Guidelines for Writing the Appellate Opinion Analysis, Memorandum

Appellate Opinion Analysis

Guidelines for Writing the Appellate Opinion Analysis, Memorandum

The following guidelines will enable you to prepare a suitable writing requirement based upon your research and discussion of an appellate judicial holding.

  1. 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 any matters within the field of Cyber Law, Privacy or IT Security.
  2. Use any search engine you are comfortable with to locate a suitable appellate opinion. You are also strongly encouraged to take advantage of the College Library research staff, who are excellent . Even Google Scholar, let alone and many others, can quickly locate current, interesting materials. In addition, blogs and media items also suggest cases.
  3. 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 Circuit courts of appeal. I recommend that you NOT select “landmark” cases for which there is either too much complexity or too much scrutiny already (e.g. Roe v. Wade, Griswold V. CT).
  4. 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 6 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! Having said that, I do not count words; use your best judgment regarding how much language you require to explicate your analysis.
  5. KEY FORMAT OUTLINE: Your objective is to prepare a legal at the request of the senior management echelon of your employer. You have been asked to brief your peers and colleagues on an important legal case…….but to keep it in layman’s terms, you, and not the employer’s attorney, are to prepare a memorandum which in turn will serve as the basis for an oral presentation. Your audience therefore are non-lawyers, they are your co-workers.
  6. 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 ruling or holding; d) analyze the tribunal’s analysis; how did the court majority 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. Lessons learned? Impact on employer behavior? Clearly, items d) and e) are the heart of this memo and should be the focus of your major efforts.
  7. “Brevity is the soul of wit”: Shakespeare. As noted, I do not count words and I hate to be petty but if you can do the job in 4 pages, bless you! Also, in evaluating the rationale of the court’s majority, you may ask if they are acting in a more or less “legislative capacity” and if this is healthy, appropriate and necessary.

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Guidelines for Writing the Appellate Opinion Analysis Memorandum

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