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Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
People v. Stringham
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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:
Guy Stringham (Defendant), along with others, beat and abducted Paul Snipes for allegedly stealing from them. Defendant participated in the beating and handed a gun to a friend, who killed Snipes. Defendant was originally charged with murder by torture, a capital offense. However, the prosecutor agreed to accept a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter, because he believed he would not be able to get testimony from two important witnesses, including a detective who elicited Defendant’s confession, but who subsequently had a heart attack. Snipes’s family strongly rejected the plea bargain and accused the prosecutor and judge of bias. A new judge, Judge Buffington, was brought in from another county to handle the case. A hearing was conducted on January 23, 1987, during which Snipes’s father was permitted to read a statement in which he ardently opposed the plea bargain and said that Defendant was a murderer and should be prosecuted as one. Judge Buffington told Snipes he could write a letter to the court including any further comments that would also be considered in the sentencing decision. The matter was rescheduled for January 30, when both parties requested acceptance of the plea bargain. The prosecutor outlined various obstacles to a murder conviction; however, Judge Buffington decided that the case should still be tried. Defendant was convicted of second-degree murder and kidnapping, and given consecutive sentences. Defendant appealed, arguing that it was inappropriate for Snipes’s father to make a statement at the hearing, because it was not yet a technical sentencing hearing at which next of kin have a right to be heard. Defendant also challenged the content of Snipes’s father's comments, complaining that they were inflammatory and distracting in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
- 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.