Rule or Holding? Which one is Important BLL?

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
ZombiesAhead
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:47 pm

Rule or Holding? Which one is Important BLL?

Postby ZombiesAhead » Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:09 pm

General TLS advice is to read cases to extract the rules or 'black-letter-law'.

My 1L professor says that the 'rule' is law that already exists and the 'holding' is the 'new rule that emerges as a result of the court's analysis' (quoted from professor).

When he gives us a 'holding' in class, it sounds like a specific application of the existing 'rule' to the unique facts at play in the facts of the case.

Which one of these aspects is the significant 'black-letter-law' that I should be extracting from these cases? Is it the existing general 'rule' or is it the very-specific 'holding'?

User avatar
DCDuck
Posts: 242
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:27 pm

Re: Rule or Holding? Which one is Important BLL?

Postby DCDuck » Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:25 pm

Both.

rad lulz
Posts: 9844
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:53 pm

Re: Rule or Holding? Which one is Important BLL?

Postby rad lulz » Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:30 pm

DCDuck wrote:Both.

ZombiesAhead
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:47 pm

Re: Rule or Holding? Which one is Important BLL?

Postby ZombiesAhead » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:20 pm

So a professor who defines 'holding' as 'new rule that emerges as a result of the court's analysis' is really trying to make his own concise statement of what this court's opinion illuminates/clarifies/defines about this existing rule for future situations?

He's giving us the important stuff that emerges from the analysis and final decision?

This is obviously important stuff. It's just not the way most online advice defines the word 'holding'.

User avatar
AVBucks4239
Posts: 870
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Rule or Holding? Which one is Important BLL?

Postby AVBucks4239 » Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:28 pm

Both are important.

The rule is something general that can be applied to a broad range of facts.

Meanwhile, the holding is something more specific that you can analogize to a specific set of facts.

For instance, in contracts, you might read a case about the mailbox rule. The mailbox rule is (generally speaking) that acceptance occurs as soon as the acceptance letter is mailed. When you read a case on it, however, it will state the general mailbox rule as "the rule," but there will also likely be an additional wrinkle to it to solve the issue presented by the case. The case will say something like, "This court holds that the mailbox rule applies when blah blah blah."

So on an exam, if you see a mailbox rule issue, you would apply that rule to the facts. To further boost that argument, you might analogize it to the facts/holding of a case you read.

Miller32
Posts: 131
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:51 pm

Re: Rule or Holding? Which one is Important BLL?

Postby Miller32 » Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:35 pm

ZombiesAhead wrote:So a professor who defines 'holding' as 'new rule that emerges as a result of the court's analysis' is really trying to make his own concise statement of what this court's opinion illuminates/clarifies/defines about this existing rule for future situations?

He's giving us the important stuff that emerges from the analysis and final decision?

This is obviously important stuff. It's just not the way most online advice defines the word 'holding'.


The professor is not really trying to make his own statement about anything, unless maybe he is choosing to interpret the holding in a controversial way. But don't worry about that for now.

The "rule" should be thought of like this: in every case there is some cause of action, or legal "rule" that the case (whether civil or criminal) is based on. So take, for example, contract law. By now most 1L's know that for a contract to be enforceable there must be an offer, acceptance, and consideration. For consideration in particular, one specific "rule" is that the consideration must be real; not merely nominal.

A specific case might interpret this rule. One party might contend that their $1 paid represents real consideration in support of the contract. The opposing party might disagree, and say that $1 isn't real at all; that it's only nominal and the contract should not be enforced. The court will consider this situation, and then "hold" whether $1 is real consideration or not.

The basic rule is that consideration must be real, not just nominal. But what does that mean exactly? At what point does the consideration not count as "real"? The holding is the court struggling with this question, and coming up with a specific decision based on the general law as applied to the pertinent facts.

NotMyRealName09
Posts: 1394
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:50 pm

Re: Rule or Holding? Which one is Important BLL?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:36 pm

My civ pro professor had a fitting metaphor - the Law is an Elephant. Judges are blind people feeling the elephant in the dark. A case's holding is the judge's explanation of the small portion of the law they are feeling in the dark that may have never been seen before.

So, yeah, both are important, but a "holding" is just a fact specific application of the "rule." Or in other words, the "rule" is the Elephant, and the "holding" is the judge's description of a specific part of the elephant.




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 3 guests