User:Postdlf/court case infobox

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Bowers v. Hardwick
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued March 31, 1986
Decided June 30, 1986
Full case name Michael J. Bowers, Attorney General of Georgia v. Michael Hardwick et al.
Citations 478 U.S. 186 (more)
106 S. Ct. 2841; 92 L. Ed. 2d 140; 1986 U.S. LEXIS 123; 54 U.S.L.W. 4919
Prior history Dismissed, D. Ga.; reversed and remanded, 760 F.2d 1202 (11th Cir. 1985); rehearing en banc denied, 765 F.2d 1123, (11th Cir. 1985); cert. granted, 474 U.S. 943 (1985)
Subsequent history Vacated and remanded, 804 F.2d 622 (11th Cir. 1986)
A Georgia law prohibiting sodomy was valid because there was no constitutionally protected right to engage in homosexual sodomy. Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan, Jr. · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
Lewis F. Powell, Jr. · William Rehnquist
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Case opinions
Majority White, joined by Burger, Powell, Rehnquist, O'Connor
Concurrence Burger
Concurrence Powell
Dissent Blackmun, joined by Brennan, Marshall, Stevens
Dissent Stevens, joined by Brennan, Marshall
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. XIV; Ga. Code § 16-6-2 (1984)
Overruled by
Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)

This information box is designed to provide precise legal information to all articles on American court cases in a way that prevents the information from cluttering or interrupting the prose of the article. With a little adaptation (as described below), it can be used on all U.S. court cases, federal and state, trial and appellate.

Some familiarity with legal citations is required, and access to LEXIS or Westlaw may be necessary to complete some sections, though most of the information will be available for free on the internet.

The example to the right is from Bowers v. Hardwick.

Explaining the infobox[edit]

  • Name of the case

This should be the same as the article title. It should as a general rule follow Bluebook form, though use your judgment as to whether an abbreviation may be too obscure and the full word used instead.

  • Court seal

Most, if not all courts have their own seals; if one cannot be found, use the seal used generally for that jurisdiction's government (such as a state seal if a state court decision)—the court seals are usually slight modifications of these anyway.
List below the full official name of the court.

  • Argued date

The date that the appellate court heard oral argument in the case. If the case was reargued, list this on the next line. Omit this if a trial court decision, or if the appellate court rendered a decision without hearing oral argument, though it is rare that a court will bother with a full opinion worthy of an article if it didn't bother with oral argument.

  • Decided date

The official date that the court's decision is handed down.

  • Full case name

This will be the full name of the parties, and will include additional parties not included in the short case name. In especially complex litigation, there may be dozens of parties on both sides; use good judgment to determine when the full name of the lead parties followed by "et al." might be preferable to an endless list.

  • Citations

Citations to every case reporter where the decision that is the subject of the article may be found.

  • Prior history

Citations to prior decisions in the case, in trial court or lower appellate courts, or prior decisions by the subject court; these should be preceded by a two to four word description of the ruling—this (as well as "subsequent history", following) is merely for a bare bones procedural history of the case—what happened when at what court. Please use the citation only for the preferred court reporter to reduce length. If unreported (as with most criminal convictions, for example), list the ruling, the court, and the date.

  • Subsequent history

Subsequent decisions by lower courts after a remand or vacation, or by the same court, as in a denial of rehearing, or continuing proceedings in a trial court.

  • Holding

A very brief (one or two sentence) description of what the central ruling of the case was. This may or may not be fact specific, depending on how broadly the court's opinion was worded; follow with a short statement of what the specific outcome of the case was.

  • Court membership

The full membership of the court (or the U.S. Circuit Court if heard en banc) at the time the decision was rendered, not when it was argued. This will also include judges who did not participate in the decision, to be noted below.
This section will be entitled "Circuit Court panel" if the decision was rendered by a three-judge appellate panel. This section will be "Presiding judge" if the article is about a trial court decision.

  • Chief Justice

The chief judge of the court. The title may be "Chief Judge" depending on the specific court.
This section is excluded if a three-judge appellate panel or trial court.

  • Associate Justices

The remaining judges of the court, listed in order of seniority if possible; may be titled "associate judge" or simply "judge" depending on the court.
If a three-judge panel or trial court, exclude the designation and just list the names.

  • Case opinions

All the written opinions handed down in the case. Always follow the designations used in the reported decision.
This section is only omitted if the case was a trial court decision.

List all judges under this heading only by their last name, as their full names are already given above in the court membership section.

  • Majority by:

The judge who authored the majority opinion.
Use "Plurality" for cases in which no opinion garnered a majority of votes; this will be the lead opinion (see Hamdi v. Rumsfeld for an example).
A three-judge appellate panel will simply have a "Decision" rather than a "majority" or "plurality" opinion.

  • Joined by:

The judges who joined in the majority/plurality opinion. Judges who also wrote concurring opinions may also join in the majority (as with Burger and Powell in the example to the right), though this is not usually the case—verify before listing.
Occasionally a judge will join all but part of an opinion; list these qualifications in parentheses after the judge's name. Ex: "Brennan, Blackmun, O'Connor, Scalia (except Part III-A), Kennedy."
Early cases (18th-mid 19th century) may not list who has joined in the majority—unless they are listed as the author of a separate concurrence or dissent, or as joining such a separate opinion, list them as joining the majority.
If the decision was unanimous, simply say that it was joined by a "unanimous court" rather than relisting every judge.

List all concurrences, followed by concurrence/dissents, followed by dissents. Within each grouping, try to order by the seniority of the authoring judge, with the chief judge always considered the most senior regardless of actual length of tenure.

  • Concurrence/dissent by:

These will usually be labeled in the original opinion as "Concurring in part and dissenting in part"—follow these designations, because from the text of the opinion alone it is sometimes difficult to tell concurrences from dissents from partial concurrences/partial dissents.

Note: List at the end, after all opinions, if a judge was on the court at the time the decision was rendered yet did not participate in the case because of a recent appointment, recusal, or other absence. Example: "Kennedy took no part in the consideration or decision of the case".

  • Laws applied

Citations to the constitutional and statutory provisions that were the basis for the decision only—NOT case law, and not every law that happens to be cited in the case or rejected as inapplicable with minimal discussion.

  • Overruled by

List the subsequent case that overruled the subject of the article only if it was unequivocal. Many cases have their reasoning questioned or undermined in later cases without it being expressly discussed in that case. The extent it has been overruled is then debatable and these should not be included.
A case is "superseded" when a subsequent constitutional amendment or law is passed that renders the decision invalid. No case ever overruled Dred Scott v. Sandford, because the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments, prohibiting slavery and making freed slaves citizens, rendered its judgment irrelevant.