Issue/Conclusion

In your legal writing, it will be up to you to define the issue in a way that is clear to the reader, identifies relevant legal rules and legally significant facts, and gives you a manageable question to analyze. Depending on your assignment, it makes sense to phrase the issue statement in a way that parallels the structure and key facts in the conclusion. The following is a short statement of the particular legal issue to be disposed of in one IRAC unit involving "direct contact," an element of the special relationship rule1 in tort. (A fuller explanation of direct contact is given in the rule synthesis section.)

Issue: Will the court find "direct contact" between Officer Krupke and the Plaintiff even though Plaintiff was not present when Plaintiff's husband reported to the officer a threatening situation that applied to his entire household, and when it was evident that he sought protection on behalf of plaintiff as a member of his household and intended to communicate police assurances of assistance to her?

Note: Note that the phrase “even though” tells the reader that the issue of what constitutes “direct contact” is raised by plaintiff’s absence when her husband communicated with the police officer. Note also how the question includes other facts that flesh out the circumstances of the contact. The drafter of the question included these facts because they are legally significant, as will be evident from reading the cases from which the “direct contact” element has developed.

Conclusion: Although Plaintiff was not present when her husband spoke with Officer Krupke, it is very likely the court will find "direct contact" between her and the officer because Plaintiff's husband reported to the officer a threatening situation that applied to his entire household, and it was evident that he sought protection on behalf of Plaintiff as a member of his household and intended to communicate police assurances of assistance to her.

Note: Note how the introductory clause of the sentence echoes the key factual circumstance raised in the issue statement—lack of actual presence when plaintiff’s husband spoke to the police officer—and incorporates it into the answer.

1 As a general rule, a municipality may not be held liable in tort for injuries resulting from a failure to provide police protection to an individual citizen. However, such liability can be found if a promise of protection was made to a particular citizen and, as a consequence, a "special relationship" with that citizen arose. The elements of this "special relationship" are: (1) an assumption by the municipality, through promises or actions, of an affirmative duty to act on behalf of the party who was injured; (2) knowledge on the part of the municipality's agents that inaction could lead to harm; (3) some form of direct contact between the municipality's agents and the injured party; and (4) that party's justifiable reliance on the municipality's affirmative undertaking. Cuffy v. City of New York, 69 N.Y.2d 255 (1987).