Format of a Case Digest

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  FORMAT OF A CASE DIGEST TITLE: Include the petitioner and respondents of the case and the reference. Sometimes, students only include the Volume Number of the Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA)/Philippine Reports (Phil) and the first page where the case appeared or written. Others only include the Gazette Record Number together with the Date of the case. Still, others include both. Others even add the  ponente  or the  justice that penned the case.   FACTS: There is no need to include all the facts. Just include those that are relevant to the subject. The contents of the facts must be brief and concise. It must be limited to the main facts of the case which of course should focus on the particular subject assigned.   ISSUES: Include only those that are relevant. Issues are usually framed in the form of questions that are answerable by yes or no, for example, Is the contract void? Sometimes, students frame the question by starting it with the word whether, for example, Whether the contract is void or Whether or not the contract is void. The answer to the question has to be answered in the ruling.Furthermore, the issue must have some bearing on the facts above written. There must be a connection between the facts presented and the issued that must be resolved.   RULING: This usually starts with a yes or a no. This is the answer to the question/s involving the issue. After the categorical yes/no answer, the reason for the decision will be explained. Of course, the ruling must be based on the facts and issues written. Concentrate on how the Supreme Court decided on the facts in question. It is advisable that your digest shows that you understand what the case is all about and that you can elaborate more on the rulings given by the Supreme Court as long as it is within the decision of the case.    TIPS ON HOW TO DIGEST CASES   18 MAY  Law Students are confronted with piles of cases to digest in addition to the law books they are required to read. Some, especially first year students, are having difficulty on how to do so. They have no idea what a case digest is in the first place, even where to locate the copy of the cases also. Hence, here are some tips on how to make your digestion of cases efficient, without much time to consume. 1.  HAVE A COPY OF THE FULL TEXT OF THE CASE.   Because of modernized technology, it has been easier for us to search the web when we want to locate something. For the full text of cases, the best source in the internet you may visit is, highly recommended, it’s frequently used actually among law students, or, you may  just visit your law library and search for the SCRA number given.   Once you have it, make sure it is really the case you are looking for. Check the title and importantly, the date because some cases may have the same title but different dates. Watch out!   2. MAKE A SCAN OF THE PAGES   Before you start, prepare your notes, pen, and your highlighter.   You may not read it directly, instead, allow yourself to get familiar with it, don’t cram or panic thinking of many cases to read. Read the title, the first page of it and you may proceed with the last  page regarding the ruling of the Supreme Court. Once you have an idea what the case is all about, read the whole case for your better understanding.  3. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW UNDER WHAT LAW SUBJECT IS THE CASE YOU ARE READING  Sometimes, first timers are not sure of what they are doing, or what to do with the case. Bear in mind that even before you read the case, you should know under what doctrine or principle of law the case is about. So that after reading, you may relate the case to said doctrine or principle. With this, you may have a better grasp of the case when you yourself can formulate the main issue of the case not just referring with what is mentioned. This is because cases may have many issues, but focus on what is related with the doctrine or principle of law.  4. TAKE A NOTE  Read with your heart, I mean your interest should be on the paper you are reading. Focus! Otherwise, you may find yourself reading the case again and again, though that usually happens to first timers. It would require mastery also.   Well, I am pretty sure you make use of your highlighter and your pen while reading. I advise you to have a printed copy of the case, not just reading it over a monitor of a computer, so that you may write unto it whatever remarks you have in mind. It helps! You are at liberty to do so. Your notes would remind you which part is important, and it’s easy when you start writing your digest.   Done reading! Start writing your digest of the case. Digest is like a summary of the case about the facts, the issue/s, and the ruling. Enjoy what you are doing! =)    HOW TO DIGEST CASES Digesting cases is a must in the college of law, this is actually regardless if it is being required by your professor or not. Once cases are assigned, a law student must observe due diligence and read these cases. For freshmen law students, you may be wondering how to make case digests or case briefs. Well, there are a few things to remember and they are: 1. Be aware of the specifics of the case or the syllabus concerned . In one case alone, there could be multiple topics i.e. Political Law, Remedial Law, Civil Law and there could be as many sub-topics i.e. for Political Law there could be Police Power and Eminent Domain. Knowing these can properly guide you with the “theme” of your digests. But usually, you will not have a hard time with this because once cases are assigned; your professor would have specified these in his handouts. 2. Read the full text of the case . And when I say read, don’t just breeze through it. Try to understand it the first time. This will save you time because if you understood it on the first reading, you won’t have to keep going back just to read it all over agai n. Highlighting important texts of the case which are related to the topic you’re on will help you have a coherent grasp of the case. 3. Now after reading the case in full, you’re now ready to   write your case digest . In a “formal” case digest, there are five parts which are:    Caption  –   This is just the title of the case. It can be as plain as “People vs Juan de la Cruz” or detailed to include the SCRA number, GR number, ponente and the date.      Facts  –  This portion is supposed to answer the “Who, What, When,   How, Why” stuff of the case.    Issues  –  This is the legal conflict or the legal controversy sought to be resolved by the Supreme Court.    Ruling  –  This is the decision or jurisprudence laid down by the court.    Concurring/Dissenting Opinions  –  These are not always present in all cases and normally they do not place any significance to the current ruling being discussed (but they may serve a significant role in future Supreme Court decisions especially when doctrines are reversed or totally abandoned). These opinions may also be an additional explanation as to how certain justices voted, the wisdom behind their votes, and as to how the decision is reached. Be very wary because some professors would also ask questions pertaining to these opinions  –  especially when such opinions are adopted as the general rule in some future cases. (I’ll discuss this part in more detail in an upcoming article). 4.  Other things  you may want to consider may include: how your professor conducts recitation, is your professor more of a “facts” guy or a “court ruling” guy; either way, you can custom make your digests in a way that will make you remember the facts and the  jurisprudence of the case. Some students prefer replacing the “characters” with letters like “X” and “Y” but that may no t sit well with other professors especially if they are meticulous with the facts of the case. Click this for a sample case digest. 
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