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Case Brief – Juliana v. US

Read article “Kelsey Juliana, et al.1 v. United States of America, et al.” then, use these formate finish
I. Citation (1 point): This is the heading on every case. Simply copy it into the citation line.
• Generic: Plaintiff v. Defendant, Volume, Reporter, Page, Year.

• Example 1: Anderson v. Brekken, 123 N.D. 456, 78 N.W.2d 910 (1999).

• Example 2: US v. Anderson, 123 F.2d 456 (8th Cir. 2000).
II. Court and Jurisdiction (1 point): Determine the jurisdiction and level of court. Each state has its own
reporting and court naming system, although most follow the standard district court, appellate court, supreme
court structure.
• General rules: State lower courts may be listed by county court name.
State Court of Appeal: xx Or. App. xxx (date); xx P.2d xxx (Or. App., year).
State Supreme Court: xx Or. xxx (date); xx P.2d xxx (date). 

Federal: District courts will list an abbreviation with the state of origin with the date; e.g., District courts: xx
F.Supp. xxx (D. Or., year).
Appeals courts specify the circuit number. Courts of Appeal: xx F.2d xxx (9th Cir year).
United States Supreme Court: xx U.S. xxx (date).
• Example 1: North Dakota Supreme Court

Example 2: 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

III. Facts (2 points): Identify the parties. Do not rely on the order of the parties in the citation—if it is an
appellate court case, sometimes the plaintiff and defendant are switched around because they put the
appellant first, rather than the original plaintiff. Read the case to be sure. State exactly what happened in the
case. Include all of the facts that are necessary to decide the issue, and try to leave out any facts that are not
necessary. It may be wise to revise this section of your case brief after you have identified the issue and rule of
the case.
• Example 1: Anderson is the Plaintiff. Brekken is the Defendant. Defendant’s car ran a red light and hit
plaintiff’s car. Plaintiff’s car was totaled. 

• Example 2: Anderson is the defendant. When Anderson plowed her fields, she plowed on a wetland area,
compacting the soil and pushing soil in the wetland. 

IV. Issue (2 points): Identify the legal question that the case is trying to resolve. State the issue as a question.
There is at least one legal issue in every case, and it should include a reference to a rule of law. The legal
issue is different from a fact; for example, it is not enough to determine whether or not the defendant ran the
red light (fact), but the court also must decide whether running the red light caused the accident (law). It is not
enough to determine whether the soil fell into the wetland (fact) but whether putting soil into the wetland is a
discharge of a “pollutant” in violation of the Clean Water Act.
• Example 1: Was Brekken negligent, resulting in damage to Anderson’s car?
• Example 2: Did Anderson unlawfully discharge a “pollutant” into the wetland when some of the plowed soil fell
into the wetland? 

V. Rule (2 points): This is a statement of the law. The rule does NOT contain information about this specific
case. It is the rule that applies to ANY case of this kind, which the judge uses to decide this particular case. 

• Example 1: If a driver violates a traffic law (i.e., running a red light) and an accident results, the offending
driver was negligent and liable for the damage to anyone who is injured.
• Example 2: The CWA defines a pollutant as anything that changes the hydrological function of a jurisdictional
water body.
VI. Holding (3 points): Identify the outcome of the case, applying the law to the facts. It is the answer to the
question you identified in the Issue. It also contains the rule as a justification for the outcome (in the example,
notice that the first part answers the question in the issue, 
followed by “because…” and a basic statement of
the rule.) The outcome of the case is usually clearly stated in the case, such as “we hold that the defendant…”
• Example 1: Brekken is liable for the damage to Anderson’s car because running a red light violates a traffic
law, which is negligent behavior when driving.
• Example 2: Anderson discharged a pollutant into the wetland because compacting and adding soil to a
wetland changes its hydrological function and is therefore a “pollutant.” 

VII. Reasoning (3 points): State the reasoning behind the rule (law) and/or the holding (facts). Connect the
facts to the rule by giving the rationale for the outcome of the case. How did the court come to its conclusion?
What were the reasons it decided the case the way that it did? Address the reasoning behind the rule (law) and
the holding (facts). This section is typically 1-2 paragraphs long. In environmental law, the court often explains
why the rule was interpreted in a particular way based on the language and purpose of the law.