How to Brief a Case: Tutorial

In a case "brief," the holding of the case is always a simple "yes" or "no" response to the question(s) raised by the formal issue(s) statement. Therefore, once the issue(s) statement has been properly determined, the HOLDING becomes quite obvious.

It is, of course, important to note that the actual "holding" of a case can be just as accurately stated in EITHER the affirmative or the negative, depending solely upon precisely how the issue(s) statement itself is worded. For example, if the issue is worded as "whether intent to cause harm is necessary for a Battery," the specific holding would be "NO." However, where the identical issue statement is worded differently, such as "whether a Battery can exist absent an intent to cause harm," the technical holding would be "YES."

Thus, once the issue(s) statement has been properly formulated to include all necessary key words, etc., the "holding" of the case for purposes of writing a case "brief," becomes largely academic. Of course, the student may still be confused by various courts' use of the phrase "holding" in judicial opinions to refer to an actual substantive or procedural rule that is derived from the case. For purposes of writing a case "brief" as used in this Exercise, this use of the phrase "holding" is inappropriate. Instead, this term refers to the rule portion of the "brief."

The Holding of the Court

Edward C. Martin

To view descriptions of each element of a case "brief,"  CLICK on the appropriate link below.


Type of Action


Procedural History

Contentions of Parties






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