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Criminal Law Keyed to Osler
United States v. Alexander
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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:
Ellsworth Kramer and four other Marine lieutenants (lieutenants) entered a local hamburger shop. Gordon Alexander and Benjamin Murdock (defendant) were already in the shop. Kramer and Alexander engaged in a staring match that escalated into Kramer shouting racial epithets towards Alexander and Murdock. They both pulled revolvers on the lieutenants. Shots were fired, resulting in the deaths of two of the lieutenants. Murdock was charged with second-degree murder and assault. Murdock’s trial was bifurcated. During the insanity portion of his trial, Murdock presented a psychiatrist who testified about Murdock’s social background and detailed Murdock’s psychopathic traits and emotional difficulties that were linked to his feelings of racial oppression. The psychiatrist opined that when Murdock was denigrated with racially charged language, he likely felt an irresistible urge to lash out at those he viewed as his oppressors. The district court instructed the jury on how the evidence could be used to consider whether or not Murdock suffered from a mental disease or defect. Through a special instruction, the district court cautioned the jury to only consider this evidence to determine whether Murdock had a mental condition that would affect the level of his criminal responsibility. Murdock was convicted. Murdock appealed.
- 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.