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Posted: February 25th, 2022

Written Assignment 1: IRAC Analysis

LREB 315 Professor Bjorn Berg
Section 104 Spring 2022
Written Assignment 1: IRAC Analysis
This first written assignment is an analysis of a case problem using the IRAC method. The IRAC
method of legal reasoning is a common method used to analyze the questions presented in legal
cases. IRAC is an acronym formed from the first letters of the following words: Issue, Rule,
Application, and Conclusion. Each word represents a basic step in the legal reasoning process.
These basic steps are:
(1) Issue: State the issue presented in the case in the form of a question.
(2) Rule: Briefly summarize the relevant rules of law that apply to the issue presented in the
case.
(3) Application: Apply the relevant rules of law to the particular facts and circumstances of
the case.
(4) Conclusion: State your conclusion on the issue based on your analysis in the above steps.
Evaluation Criteria
This first written assignment is worth 10 percent of your final course grade. Your grade on this
written assignment will be based on the quality of both the content and the writing of your IRAC
analysis.
(1) Content
• Contains all of the essential elements of an IRAC analysis
• Correctly identifies the main issue presented in the case problem
• Provides only the rules of law that are relevant to the issue presented in the case and
that you will apply to the facts of the case to arrive at your conclusion
• Logically applies those rules of law to the relevant facts and circumstances of the
case that support your conclusion
• Briefly states your conclusion on the issue consistent with your analysis
(2) Writing
• Clear, concise, and precise writing
• Proper mechanics including spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure
• References to authority (e.g., precedent) as appropriate (including quotations)
• Audience awareness
• Flow of the writing
Due Date: Submit electronically to Sakai by 11:00pm on Sunday, February 27
2
Sample IRAC Analysis
Note: This sample IRAC analysis is based on the facts of Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., 556
U.S. 868 (2009).
Issue:
Whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was violated when Justice
Benjamin denied the motion for recusal?
Rule:
The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that “[n]o State shall…deprive any
person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1.
“A fair trial in a fair tribunal is a basic requirement of due process.” In re Murchison, 349 U.S.
133, 136 (1955). Accordingly, judicial bias is a denial of procedural due process. Distinct from a
judge’s own subjective perception of actual bias, there are objective standards of potential bias
that require recusal when “the probability of actual bias on the part of the judge or decisionmaker
is too high to be constitutionally tolerable.” Withrow v. Larkin, 421 U.S. 35, 47 (1975). Under
existing precedent, the Court has previously found this to be the case when the judge has a
financial interest in the outcome of the case (such as when the judge receives a pecuniary benefit
from the fines assessed in the case) and when the judge has another type of personal (albeit
nonpecuniary) interest in the outcome of the case (such as when the judge tries a defendant for
the criminal contempt charged by that same judge in an earlier “one-man grand jury”
proceeding). The controlling principle in these cases is the presence of “a possible temptation to
the average…judge…which might lead him not to hold the balance nice, clear, and true.” Tumey
v. Ohio, 273 U.S. 510, 532 (1927).
Application:
A pending litigant’s contribution to a candidate in a judicial election has the potential to create an
appearance of bias in the judicial decision-making process. In such a case, a few relevant factors
to consider in objectively evaluating the probability of bias are the contribution’s relative size, the
apparent influence on the election, and the temporal relation between the contribution, the
election, and the pending case. Here, the contribution of Massey’s CEO to Justice Benjamin was
larger than the amount of all other spending in the election combined, the election result was
fairly close, and the case was pending appeal at the West Virginia Supreme Court when the
contribution was made in the judicial election of now-Justice Benjamin to that same court. The
significant and disproportionate influence of Massey’s CEO in this election coupled with the
temporal relationship between the election and the pending case offer a temptation to the average
judge. Given these extreme facts, the probability of actual bias rises to an unconstitutional level.
Conclusion:
Yes, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was violated when Justice Benjamin
denied the motion for recusal.


Professor Bjorn Berg is a lecturer in LREB 315.
Section 104 will be available in the spring of 2022.
IRAC Analysis is the first written assignment.
A case problem is being investigated in this first written assignment, which will be done using the IRAC method. A typical approach of legal reasoning used to assess the questions given in court proceedings is the IRAC method of deductive reasoning. IRAC is an acronym made up of the first letters of the words Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion, which stand for Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion. Each letter of the alphabet marks a fundamental phase in the legal reasoning process.
The following are the fundamental steps:
(1) Issue: In the form of a question, state the issue that has been raised in the case.
(2) Rule: Provide a succinct summary of the key rules of law that pertain to the matter at hand in the case.
(3) Application: Make specific application of the applicable legal rules to the facts and circumstances of the case at hand.
(4) Conclusion: Based on your research and analysis in the preceding steps, state your position on the topic.
Criteria for Evaluation
This first written assignment is worth ten percent of your ultimate course grade and is due on the first day of class. It will be determined by the quality of both the substance and the writing of your IRAC analysis that you will receive a grade on this written project.
The content of the IRAC analysis has all of the important aspects of an IRAC analysis and correctly identifies the central issue given in the case situation.
Contains only the rules of law that are relevant to the issue presented in the case and that you will apply to the facts of the case in order to reach a decision on the issue; logically applies those rules of law to the relevant facts and circumstances of the case that support your conclusion; concisely states your decision on the issue based on your analysis
• Proper mechanics like as spelling, syntax, punctuation, and sentence structure • References to authority (e.g., precedent) as necessary (2) Writing (including quotations)
• Awareness of the target audience • Flow of the writing
The submission deadline is Sunday, February 27 at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EDT).
2
IRAC Analysis of a Sample
Note: The circumstances of Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., 556 U.S. 868, served as the basis for this sample IRAC study of IRAC (2009).
The question is whether Justice Benjamin’s denial of the motion for recusal was a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or not.
Rule:
Specifically, according to the United States Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, “[n]o State shall…deprive any person of his [or her] life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Amendment XIV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution.
“A fair trial in a fair tribunal is a fundamental condition of due process,” says the Supreme Court. In re Murchison, 349 U.S. 133, 136 (1949) (in English) (1955). As a result, judicial bias is characterized by a violation of procedural due process. There are objective standards of possible bias that, in contrast to a judge’s own subjective judgment of real bias, compel recusal when “the chance of actual bias on the part of the judge or decisionmaker is too great to be constitutionally bearable.” The case of Withrow v. Larkin was decided in the United States Supreme Court on April 21, 421. (1975). Previously, the Court has determined that this is the case when a judge has a financial interest in the outcome of the case (such as when the judge receives a pecuniary benefit from the fines assessed in the case) and when the judge has another type of personal (albeit nonpecuniary) interest in the outcome of the case (such as when the judge prosecutes a defendant for criminal contempt charged by that same judge in an earlier “one-man grand jury” trial) The presence of “a probable temptation to the average…judge…which might lead him not to hold the balance nice, clear, and accurate” is the governing principle in certain situations. The Supreme Court decided Tumey v. Ohio in 273 U.S. 510, 532. (1927).
Application:
It is possible that the contribution made to a candidate in a court election by a pending plaintiff will lead to the appearance of bias in the judicial decision-making process. Some pertinent considerations to consider in objectively analyzing the risk of bias in such an instance include: the relative magnitude of the contribution, its apparent influence on the election, and the chronological relationship between the contribution, election, and pending case in question. Here, the contribution of Massey’s CEO to Justice Benjamin was larger than the amount of all other spending in the election combined, the election result was fairly close, and the case was pending appeal at the West Virginia Supreme Court when the contribution was made in the judicial election of now-Justice Benjamin to that same court. An average judge may be persuaded to take a shortcut because of the significant and disproportionate influence of Massey’s CEO in this election, as well as the temporal relationship between the election and the ongoing lawsuit. Because of these exceptional circumstances, the likelihood of genuine bias increases to an unconstitutional degree.
Conclusion: When Justice Benjamin refused the motion for recusal, he did so in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was breached.

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