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A case theory (aka theory of case, theory of a case, or theory of the case) is “a detailed, coherent, accurate story of what occurred" involving both a legal theory (i.e., claims/causes of action or affirmative defenses) and a factual theory (i.e., an explanation of how a particular course of events could have happened).[1]

That is, a case theory is a logical description of events that the attorney wants the judge or jury to adopt as their own perception of the underlying situation. The theory is often expressed in a story that should be compellingly probable.[2] Case theory is distinguished from jurisprudence (aka legal theory) as general theory of law not specific to a case.

Example usageEdit

  • “Judge Taylor asked lawyers for … their theories of the case because of his unfamiliarity with it …. [The Judge] agreed to …seal the defense summary of its case theory.” [3]
  • “Working with attorneys, Capital Case Investigators will be responsible for … consulting with attorneys to develop case theories and strategies …"[4]


  1. ^ "Case Theory In A Nutshell" (PDF). Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  2. ^ Mauet, Thomas A. Trial Notebook. Aspen Publishers. pp. 12, 13. ISBN 9781567069419.
  3. ^ Erlandson, Robert A. (March 4, 1977). "[Governor] Mandel divorce data sought: Record subpoenaed for possible use at Governor's trial". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  4. ^ "Capital Case Investigator (advertisement)". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. August 16, 1995. Retrieved August 19, 2019.