brief / brēf/ • adj. of short duration: the president made a brief visit to Moscow. ∎ concise in expression; using few words: introductions were brief and polite. ∎ (of a piece of clothing) not covering much of the body; scanty: Alice sported a pair of extremely brief black shorts. • n. a concise statement or summary: their comments were cribbed right from industry briefs. ∎ a set of instructions given to a person about a job or task: his brief is to turn around the country's economy. ∎ a written summary of the facts and legal points supporting one side of a case, for presentation to a court. • v. [tr.] instruct or inform (someone) thoroughly, esp. in preparation for a task: she briefed him on last week's decisions. PHRASES: hold no brief for not support or argue in favor of: I hold no brief for the president. in brief in a few words; in short: he is, in brief, the embodiment of evil the news in brief.DERIVATIVES: brief·ly adv. brief·ness n. ORIGIN: Middle English: from Old French brief, from Latin brevis ‘short.’ The noun is via late Latin breve ‘note, dispatch,’ hence ‘an official letter.’
A summary of the important points of a longer document. An abstract of a published judicial opinion prepared by a law student as part of an assignment in thecase methodstudy of law. A written document drawn up by an attorney for a party in a lawsuit or by a party himself or herself appearing pro se that concisely states the following: (1) issues of a lawsuit; (2) facts that bring the parties to court; (3) relevant laws that can affect the subject of the dispute; and (4) arguments that explain how the law applies to the particular facts so that the case will be decided in the party's favor.
A brief may also contain a synopsis of the evidence and name the witnesses to be presented during the trial. Copies of briefs must be submitted to the court where the case will be heard and to the opposing party.
An appellate brief is a writing that must be filed with an appellate court so that the court may evaluate whether the decision of the lower court should be reversed because of some error or impropriety that occurred during the trial. A statement of the issues presented for review, a summary of how pertinent laws affect the facts, and a statement of the relief being requested are essential elements of an appellate brief. The appellee's brief will argue that the lower court acted properly in its judgment and request its affirmance, while the appellant's brief will attempt to convince the court to reverse or vacate the lower court's judgment because it acted improperly.
See also the Milestones in the Law and Appendix volumes for examples.
Although the term may refer to a number of different kinds of legal documents, in American usage a "brief" ordinarily is a written summary of arguments presented by counsel to a court, and particularly to an appellate court. In the Supreme Court, counsel file briefs only after the Court has granted review of the case. Counsel's first opportunity to acquaint the Court with arguments in the case thus comes in the filing of a petition for a writ of certiorari (or, in the case of an appeal, a "jurisdictional statement"), and the papers opposing such a petition. By rule the Court prescribes the length and form of briefs, requires that they be printed (unless a party is permitted to proceed in forma pauperis, as one who cannot afford certain costs), and sets the number of copies to be filed. By the time of oral argument, the Justices normally have had full opportunity to read and analyze the briefs (including reply briefs) of counsel for the parties and also for any amici curiae. At or after the argument, the Court may ask counsel to file supplemental briefs on certain issues.
Kenneth L. Karst
(see also: Brandeis Brief.)
Stern, Robert L. and Gressman, Eugene 1978 Supreme Court Practice, 5th ed. Chaps. 6–7. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs.