New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964)

Being able to succinctly brief court opinions is an essential tool for understanding case law and applying it to real situations in mass communications. During this semester, we will discuss several significant Supreme Court, federal and state decisions regarding mass communication law. Briefing these cases will significantly aid your comprehension of the key points and your preparation for examinations. In order to help understand the practice and format of briefing cases, each student will be required to hand in two briefs, each worth 25 points. Each brief should be between two and three typewritten, double-spaced pages, printed in 12-point font. Follow the format of Brown v. Board of Education that is featured in the following pages on briefing cases from Wren’s The Legal Research Manual. Make sure that you read the entire case opinion, not just the excerpts in the course textbook. Taking short cuts will result in a half-baked brief, probably missing the rationale of the court’s decision and the case’s significance. Grades will be determined from following the proper format, understanding the facts, the decision, significance and the rationale, as well as the overall clarity of presentation. Show that you understand the decision and how the court arrived at its conclusion. Almost all federal and state court opinions can be found electronically. In addition to NexisLexis™ Academic on the Iona Library electronic databases (see instruction page), other free on-line services offering full-text opinions include: Provided by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School with links to a variety of courts, both state and federal. The free “findlaw” service for links to case, codes, law review articles. A range of links, both legal and nonlegal. The most recent U.S. Supreme Court “slip” opinions. The paper should be 550 words long