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Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
Williams v. State
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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:
Williams (Defendant) and Jones were arguing over a photo that depicted Jones’ girlfriend acting unfaithfully with Defendant. Jones grabbed Defendant’s wallet and ran, trying to get the picture. Defendant went inside his house and called the police. When Defendant returned outside, Jones attempted to attack him, swinging a lead pipe numerous times. Defendant went back inside and obtained a bow and arrow, with which he pursued Jones. Right before he released an arrow meant for Jones, Defendant yelled a warning to Jewel Lyles, who was walking by, to “watch out.” The arrow hit Lyles, and she died from the wound. At the time of the shooting, Lyles was nine months pregnant. The baby was born alive prior to Lyles’s death, but died shortly after as a result of the mother’s injury. Defendant was convicted by a jury of manslaughter for the deaths of both Lyles and her baby. Defendant appealed. Because Maryland law required the court to apply the English common law, the court mainly considered the views of two prominent English commentators, Lord Hale and Lord Coke. Hale understood the common law to say that if a baby was born alive and subsequently died of injuries criminally inflicted upon the pregnant mother, the situation did not constitute murder or manslaughter. In contrast, Coke’s view was that such circumstances did amount to a criminal homicide. After noting that a number of American jurisdictions accepted Coke’s view, the court concluded that the English common law supported Coke’s born-alive rule. The court held that it is the common law of Maryland that when a child is born alive, but subsequently dies as a result of injury sustained in utero, the death of the child is a homicide. Defendant appealed, arguing that the version of the common law accepted by the court should not be applied to his manslaughter conviction.
- 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.