Reading Notes

Most of this reading was a review from the previous days. We read about primary and secondary sources along with mandatory and persuasive authority.

Additionally we talked about rules. During my undergrad, I went over rules briefly but still felt there was a ton to learn. We also discussed rules during orientation, although briefly. Here we discuss it in more depth. I’ll outline a few of the basic concepts for our purposes.

Understanding rules

A rule is a legal principle upon which a court must abide. However, these rules can change frequently to accommodate the current legal situation. So, you may begin with a statute, the court interprets that statute, then you have a new rule. This is the process for emerging new rules. The process may be simplified by the steps below:

Existing rule –> New case –> Emerging rule

The emerging rule can now be seen as as the existing rule for future cases to evaluate. Over time, they become more specific and detailed as cases help shape the rule.

Elements and Factors

As stated above, a global rule typically has a main result with the conditions necessary to obtain that result. Those conditions are elements and factors. Elements act like checklist, where every part of the rule must be met for the result to take effect. Factors act more like a scale, where you weigh the different parts to see determine if the rule should take effect.

There are other variations of elements and factors. However, most cases are best understood by looking at it like that.

Outlining a rule

A rule outline is a way of simplifying the structure of a rule to be easier to understand and thus more easy to measure how your client meets the conditions.

This was a more difficult process than I anticipated, for instance, I expected a rule to appear more structured. However, there are times when you need to pick out the pieces for the rule. In our assignment we were given a case where we were given an initial statute and was asked to outline the rule. We were also given a fact pattern. For this assignment I determined that we only needed to evaluate the second prong so I created only one rule for this purpose. Below is the statute of self-defense followed by my outline.

720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/7-1—Use of force in defense of person.

A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.

However, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he reasonably believes that death or great bodily harm is imminent and that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another.


A person “is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if” the court finds:

  1. His reasonable believe that death or bodily harm is imminent
  2. Such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or bodily harm to a) himself or b) another.

The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.

If you would like to listen to this article instead, play below.

Will Laursen

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