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    Case Law - Teacher Rights and Freedoms

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    Prepare Case Brief Teacher Rights and Freedoms — Mt. Healthy City School District Board of Education v. Doyle, Stroman v. Colleton County School District and Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968), Research the case law in the area you have chosen and identify what you determine are the most interesting or significant cases to you. From the cases review and prepare three Student Briefs. These briefs must be thorough and demonstrate a strong understanding of the facts and significant issues of the case. Pay close attention to the specifics of the court decision as well as the reasoning and rationale of the majority decision as well as any dissenting opinion. Of great importance in this critical assessment will be your evaluation of the significance of the case in your analysis. Introduction on all three cases. 1200 words.
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    These can be extensive or short, depending on the depth of analysis required and the demands of the instructor. A comprehensive brief includes the following elements:

    1. Title and Citation
    2. Facts of the Case
    3. Issues
    4. Decisions [Holdings]
    5. Reasoning [Rationale]
    6. Separate Opinions
    7. Analysis

    1. Title and Citation

    Title. The title of the case shows who is opposing whom. The name of the person who initiated legal action in that particular court will always appear first. Since the losers often appeal to a higher court, this can get confusing. The first section of this guide shows you how to identity the players without a scorecard.

    Citation. This tells how to locate the report of the case in the appropriate case reporter. If you know orgy the tide of the case, the citation to it can be found using the case digest covering that court. A discussion of digests and their use is Included in the Library publication Basic Legal Research.

    2. Facts of the Case

    A good student brief will include a summary of the pertinent facts and legal points raised in the case. It will show the nature of the litigation, who sued whom, based on what occurrences, and what happened in the lower court or courts.

    The facts are often conveniently summarized at the beginning of the court's published opinion. Sometimes, the best statement of the facts will be found in a dissenting or concurring opinion. WARNING: Judges are not above being selective about the facts they emphasize. This can become of crucial importance when you try to reconcile apparently inconsistent cases, because the way a judge chooses to characterize and "edit" the facts often determines which way he or she will vote and, as a result, which rule of law will be applied.

    The fact section of a good student brief will include the following elements:

    A one-sentence description of the nature of the case, to serve as an introduction.

    A statement of the relevant law, with quotation marks or underlining to draw attention to the key words or phrases that are in dispute.

    A summary of the complaint (in a civil case) or the indictment (in a criminal case) plus relevant evidence and arguments presented in court to explain who did what to whom and why the case was thought to involve illegal conduct.

    A summary of actions taken by lower courts, for example, defendant convicted; conviction upheld by appellate court; Supreme Court granted certiorari
    3. Issues

    The issues or questions of law raised by the facts peculiar to the case are often stated explicitly by the court. Again, watch out for the occasional judge who misstates the questions raised in the lower court's opinion, by the parties on appeal, or by the nature of the case.

    Constitutional cases frequently involve multiple issues, some of interest only to litigants and lawyers, others of broader and enduring significance to citizens and officials alike. Be sure you have mastered both.

    With rare exceptions, the outcome of an appellate case will turn on the meaning of a provision of the Constitution, a law, or a judicial doctrine. Capture that provision or debated point in your restatement of the issue. Set it off with quotation marks or underline it. This will help you later when you try to reconcile conflicting cases.

    When noting the issues, it may help to phrase them in terms of questions that can be answered with a precise "yes" or "no."

    Example: The famous case of Brown v. Board of Education involved the applicability of a provision of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to a school board's practice of excluding Black pupils from certain public schools solely on account of their race. The precise wording of the Amendment is "No State shall... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The careful student would begin by picking out the key phrases from this Amendment and deciding which of them were really at issue in this case. Assuming that there was no doubt that the school board was acting as the State, and that Miss Brown was a "person within its jurisdiction," then the key issue would be "Does the exclusion of students from a public school solely on the basis of race amount to a denial of 'equal protection of the laws'?"

    Of course, the implications of this case went far beyond the situation of Miss Brown, the Topeka school board, or even public education. They cast doubt on the continuing validity of prior decisions in which the Supreme Court had held that restriction of Black Americans to "separate but equal" facilities did not deny them "equal protection of the laws." Make note of any such implications in your statement of issues at the end of the brief, in which you set out your observations and comments.

    Note: More students misread cases because they fail to see the issues in terms of the applicable law or judicial doctrine than for any other reason. There is no substitute for taking the time to frame carefully the questions, in order that they actually incorporate the key provisions of the law in terms capable of being given precise answers. It may also help to label the issues, for example, "procedural issues," "substantive issue," "legal issue," and so on. Remember, too, that the same case may be used by instructors for different purposes, so pan of the challenge of briefing is to identify those issues in the case which are of central Importance to the topic under discussion in class.

    4. Decisions

    The decision, or holding, is the court's answer to a question presented to it for answer by the parties involved or raised by the court itself in its own reading of the case. There are narrow procedural holdings, for example, "case reversed and remanded," and broader substantive holdings which deal with the interpretation of the Constitution, statutes, or judicial doctrines. If the issues have been drawn precisely, the holdings can be stated in simple "yes" or "no" answers or in short statements taken from the language used by the court.

    5. Reasoning

    The reasoning, or rationale, is the chain of argument which led the judges in either a majority or a dissenting opinion to rule as they did. This should be outlined point by point in numbered sentences or paragraphs.

    6. Separate Opinions

    Both concurring and dissenting opinions should be subjected to the same depth of analysis to bring out the major points of agreement and disagreement with the majority opinion. Make a note of how each justice voted and how they lined up. Knowledge of how judges of a particular court normally line up on particular issues is essential to anticipating how they will vote in future cases involving similar issues.

    7. Analysis

    Here the student should evaluate the significance of the case, its relationship to other cases, its place in history, what it shows about the Court, its members, its decision-making processes, or the impact it has on litigants, government, or society. It is here that the implicit assumptions and values of the Justices should be probed, the "rightness" of the decision debated, and the logic of the reasoning considered.

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    Mt. Healthy City School District Board of Education v. Doyle,

    Facts: This case brief entails a teacher objecting to a local school corporation's new dress code requirements for teachers within corporate buildings. The teacher subsequently sought to publicly disparage the code, and went so far as to attempt to take the issue to local radio stations. When the teacher's contract was due for renegotiation, the teacher's contract was not renewed, which resulting in the teacher suing the school based upon the belief that he was fired based upon his First Amendment freedom of speech rights when he protested the school dress code as he believed the firing was entirely predicated upon his stated opposition to the dress code. The school board refuted the teachers' claims and subsequently sought summary judgment based upon their assertion that the teacher was fired because of two other incidents of improper behavior by the teacher. As a result, the teacher was fired for their improper conduct instead of the teacher's opposition to the dress code.

    Issue: Whether a school board can defend its decision of dismissal by showing that other employment factors were sufficient to justify dismissal.

    Holding/Analysis: If a school can show that other employment factors resulted in termination of employment, the Court ruled that the school has a right to terminate employment. Despite the defendant's first amendment claim, the Court determined that under these conditions, it was constitutionally acceptable for the school to fire the teacher as the employer was able to sufficiently show that other vital factors played a role in the teacher's firing. The court held that an employer will not be liable for a first amendment firing if they can show sufficient cause to fire on the basis of ...

    Solution Summary

    Teachers rights and freedoms are examined in a case study.