Sunday, July 8, 2012

How to Easily Digest a Case

TIPS ON DIGESTING CASES: You can never escape digesting cases in the College of Law. The objective in digesting cases is to discover how the law was applied. Your professor is less interested in the brilliancy of the lawyer or the parties involved or how they won or lost their case. What matters is how the Supreme Court resolved the issues.

1. DO NOT DIGEST UNLESS YOU KNOW THE CODAL PROVISION. It's a total waste of time. On the contrary, if you know what the law requires, it is easy to determine if the parties obeyed or disobeyed the law. The Court always sides with the party who obeyed the law.

2. DO NOT DIGEST CASES SINGLY. Groups of cases must be digested together because they all apply the same law - sometimes in contrasting manner. Spend the most time thoroughly digesting the first in a batch of cases. Succeeding cases will simply re-apply the same principle. However, look out for reversals of rulings.

3. LOOK AT THE DATES. PRIORITIZE DIGESTING LATER CASES. Chances are, the latest case will contain a recitation of earlier cases - already digested by the ponente (the justice who actually writes the text of the decision). Not only that - usually, the ponente will compare and contrast related cases, saving you a lot of time in case you cannot read the full text of the original decision. But set apart a time to read the original cases anyway.

4. USE BLOCK DIAGRAMS TO REPRESENT THE PARTIES. Reduce the long list of parties into "F filed an action against C" etc. regardless of how long the full name of F or C is. Make a mental chart of who filed the original case and then trace it from there - who won in the original jurisdiction, it is always the loser who appeals if the case was resolved normally. But 80% of cases reaching the Supreme Court are pre-emptive; filed by one of the parties before a final decision is reached below. But just the same, the party that goes to the Supreme Court is either the losing party of the party about to lose. Jump to the dispositive portion and see if the petitioning party was successful or not. Then reconstruct the arguments in between, using the syllabus of the case (the first portion of every SCRA (text) as aid.

5. AT THE VERY LEAST, DIGEST AT LEAST ONE CASE FROM EVERY SECTION OF THE COURSE OUTLINE. It is not the number of cases you digested that matters but the coverage. You must digest at least one case for every pertinent provision of law. Two, if you have the time. Three, if you anticipate a graded recitation.

6. SEEK AN OPPORTUNITY TO DISPLAY WHAT YOU LEARNED. If you are called for a recitation on a case you did not digest, offer to recite on another cases (most professors will allow that, so long as you offer to recite on the same subject matter.) The point is, let the professor know that you attempted to understand the principle at work. If embarrassed, do not sulk. Listen to the person reciting - their digest may be correct and if it is, it will definitely come out in the exams.

7. DO NOT DEVOUR ALL FACTS. YOU DO NOT NEED THEM. You can try applying the reverse analysis approach. Look at the ruling and then find out how the Court arrived at the ruling. The Supreme Court throws out may irrelevant facts because it is not a trier of facts. Do not try to smell out every fact if it did not even concern the Justices.

8. REMEMBER THE "ANGLE OF CONCERN". If you are digesting for a Constitutional Law subject, ignore the issues that do not concern you. Read the case with particular interest on how the Constitution was applied. Ditto for other subjects.

9. KEEP YOUR DIGEST. YOU WILL DEFINITELY ENCOUNTER THE SAME CASES IN YOUR HIGHER YEARS. Most cases involve various aspects of the law. So the cases you digested in Persons are most likely the same ones you will read in Wills and Succession. Your "angle of concern" will be different of course, but you will save a lot of time if you are familiar with the facts already.[i]

WAG KANG AAYAW HA! Talagang ganyan ang buhay nating mga ambisyoso. clap

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