Spotting Legal Issues
The essential matter for lawyers, judges, law students, and paralegals in reading law cases is to properly spot the "legal issue" -
here is what Prof. Vermelia Randall of U.Dayton Law School says on Issues
An issue is a question of law. It is usually a question that asks, "What is the result when you apply this rule of law to these facts?" Lawyers constantly look for the legal problem or problems at hand; they are problem solvers, and sometimes the toughest problem is pinpointing the problem. In an appeal the lawyers on both sides have selected their legal battlegrounds and put forth their theories, both at the trial and on appeal. The court selects from among, and may reframe, the issues presented by the parties. Nonetheless, it may still be difficult for the reader of the court's opinion to precisely identify the legal issues.
Most cases raise more than one question of law. A case may involve three issues, but have only one or two of them resolved by the court. When this happens, it is often because the multiple issues are related in such a way that whether one issue must be resolved depends upon the resolution of another issue. If "issue one" must be decided in order to determine whether "issue two" must be addressed, then the first question is referred to as a "threshold issue." For example, if a statute of limitations question is resolved in favor of the defendant and the cause of action is dismissed, then the case is concluded without the court considering issues related to the merits of the suit. (If you are writing about the pending case, you must discuss all of the issues that the court might possibly reach, of course, because you do not know what the court will conclude about the threshold issue.)
An issue can usually be framed in the form of a question that can be answered "yes" or "no." In order to yield a legal conclusion that can be applied under the principle of stare decisis to future similar situations, the issue must be stated neither too narrowly nor too broadly. "
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Good luck. hope this helps. Prof. J