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Criminal Law keyed to Dripps
State v. Spain
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*Case Brief Anatomy includes: Brief Prologue, Complete Case Brief, Brief Epilogue
- The Brief Prologue provides necessary case brief introductory information and includes:
- Topic: Identifies the topic of law and where this case fits within your course outline.
- Parties: Identifies the cast of characters involved in the case.
- Procedural Posture & History: Shares the case history with how lower courts have ruled on the matter.
- Case Key Terms, Acts, Doctrines, etc.: A case specific Legal Term Dictionary.
- Case Doctrines, Acts, Statutes, Amendments and Treatises: Identifies and Defines Legal Authority used in this case.
- The Case Brief is the complete case summarized and authored in the traditional Law School I.R.A.C. format. The Pro case brief includes:
- Brief Facts: A Synopsis of the Facts of the case.
- Rule of Law: Identifies the Legal Principle the Court used in deciding the case.
- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
Nancy Louise Spain (Defendant) had moved into the home of her ex-husband, Eugene Letendre, after she had been forced to move out of her apartment. One evening, Letendre returned to his home after drinking and went to sleep. At that time he did not see Defendant in the house. Early the following morning, Letendre awoke to the sound of his dog barking and a two-foot-high wall of flames rising up from the hardwood floor near his bed. After Letendre unsuccessfully attempted to put out the fire, and receiving several burns in the process, he ran to the kitchen and dialed 911. Firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire. Letendre was transported to a hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and second-degree burns to six percent of his body. Fire investigators found a partially burned can of charcoal lighter fluid on Letendre’s bedroom floor. Defendant’s statement to police that she had been awakened on the couch by the fire differed from what was seen by firefighters who noted that the couch and living room was neatly made and did not look like it had been slept in. Defendant was charged with first-degree arson. At trial, Defendant’s claim that Letendre had accidentally started the fire with a lit cigarette was refuted by expert testimony, which indicated that the burn pattern on the floor indicated that it had been set deliberately. Defendant was convicted. In a victim impact statement presented prior to Defendant’s sentencing, Letendre told the court that his burned feet caused him daily pain and negatively impacted his ability to work and live. Although Defendant had no previous criminal history, the trial court sentenced her to 144 months in prison, which was a triple durational departure from the presumptive sentence of forty-eight months set forth in the state’s sentencing guidelines. The court of appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence and the Minnesota Supreme Court granted review.
- Issue(s): Lists the Questions of Law that are raised by the Facts of the case.
- Holding: Shares the Court's answer to the legal questions raised in the issue.
- Concurring / Dissenting Opinions: Includes valuable concurring or dissenting opinions and their key points.
- Reasoning and Analysis: Identifies the chain of argument(s) which led the judges to rule as they did.
- The Brief Prologue closes the case brief with important forward-looking discussion and includes:
- Policy: Identifies the Policy if any that has been established by the case.
- Court Direction: Shares where the Court went from here for this case.