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Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
State v. Herrera
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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:
In 1983, Utah eliminated the traditional insanity defense, replacing it with a new statute, § 76-2-305(1), which provided that it is a defense that, “the defendant, as a result of mental illness, lacked the mental state required as an element of the offense charged. Mental illness is not otherwise a defense.” Under the previous law, a defendant was permitted to argue in his defense that he committed an act but did not understand that it was wrong. In contrast, the amended law restricts the defense to the defendant not having the mens rea required by the crime. Herrera and Sweezy (Defendants) pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to their crimes and filed motions requesting that the court declare the Utah statutory scheme dealing with the insanity defense unconstitutional. Defendant argued that the statute is unconstitutional on three grounds: (1) it violates federal due process, because it would allow them to be convicted even if they did not know the wrongfulness of their actions; (2) it violates state due process guarantees; and (3) it impermissibly shifts the burden of proving an element of the crime from the prosecution to the defendants.
- 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.
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- 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.