Sewing a Quilt of Case Law.
Posted on December 10, 2012
When drafting the “Argument” portion of a brief it is important to think of the case law authority you would like to reference as just not isolated cases, or even as a related series of cases, but as patchwork that together creates a interrelated blanket that controls the area of law being discussed. A “quilt” of case law is created by identifying a theme that runs through the holdings of the cases your argument relies upon and then weaving the strands of that theme through your discussion. The theme may emphasize a pattern of similar facts, a public policy purpose, or some other element of similarity between the cases.
The theme is then used to stitch together what might other be considered disparate case law. When the individual cases are presented as parts of a larger theme they strengthen your legal argument and also make it more difficult for the opposing party to distinguish to irrelevancy any individual cases.
Thus, I recommend that before the facts and holding of any case is discussed, you first present the reader of your brief with an overview of the law based on a blending of the holdings of your case law. This is akin to showing the reader your quilt. Then as each case is discussed, starting with your strongest ones, you demonstrate how that case fits within the patchwork of the case law quilt.
This simple approach to presenting case law should improve your briefs.