More Guidelines for Writing Issue Statements

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Here are two more guidelines based on my review of issue statements from lawyers' briefs:

3.  Unless the question is purely one of law or court rules direct otherwise, it is effective to include some legally relevant facts to put the issue in context, as in this example:

            Whether the United States satisfied the notice requirements of the Due Process Clause by sending a federal prisoner notice of an administrative forfeiture proceeding by certified mail addressed to the prisoner at the prison where he was incarcerated.

 

4.  The issue statement should not assume a point that the court must decide.  Avoid writing a statement like this:

            Under the California law of punitive damages, should the court find that the defendant acted with malice when all the facts necessary for a finding of malice have been established?

            This assumes the very point that must be established.  Instead, the writer should state the facts that arguably demonstrate malice, as in this example:

            Under the California law of punitive damages, did the manager of a grocery store act with malice where he knowingly left a banana peel on the floor of the store for one hour during its busiest time?

    Click here to read the article reporting the results of this study.