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Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
Arave v. Creech
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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:
Thomas Creech (Defendant), an inmate already serving life sentences for numerous first-degree murders, killed fellow inmate David Jensen at the Idaho State Penitentiary. Defendant gave conflicting accounts of the events, but the court found that Jensen approached Defendant with a battery-filled sock, which Defendant took and with which Defendant struck Jensen in the head. After the struggle continued, Defendant repeatedly kicked Jensen in the throat and head, even though Jensen was already helpless and badly injured. Jensen later died. Defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. The trial judge held a sentencing hearing and found that Defendant was initially justified in protecting himself from Jensen’s attack, but Defendant was completely in control after the attack began, and the murder itself was alarmingly violent, indicating severe rage. The judge found five aggravating circumstances present, including that Defendant exhibited “utter disregard for human life,” and concluded that any mitigating circumstances did not outweigh the aggravating factors. Defendant was sentenced to death. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed, expressing that the limiting construction it had placed on the “utter disregard for human life” language inState v. Osborn,631 P.2d 187 (1981), was adequate and concluding that the phrase is meant to refer to circumstances that exhibit “the highest, the utmost callous disregard for human life, i.e., the cold-blooded, pitiless slayer.” Defendant filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with Defendant that the “utter disregard” language was unconstitutionally vague.
- 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.