Logourl black

Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco v. Sheffield

Court of Appeals of California
93 Cal.Rptr. 338 (1971)


Sheffield (plaintiff) entered into a contract with the Canons Regular of St. Augustine (defendant), a Catholic monastic order, of Switzerland for the purchase of a trained St. Bernard dog. Sheffield made the first payments, but the Canons Regular did not send the dog, and would not give him a refund. Sheffield filed suit against the Canons regular, the Pope, the Vatican, and the Archbishop of San Francisco, his hometown. Sheffield contended that the Catholic Church and its local dioceses are alter egos of one another, with the Pope appointing local officials in San Francisco merely to manage the church’s affairs there, and that canon law held the church to be a hierarchy, with the pope at the top. The Archbishop replied that he was not a party to the contract to purchase a St. Bernard, and that the Archdiocese of San Francisco was a separate legal entity from the church, with its own assets and obligations. The Archbishop moved for the case against him to be dismissed, and the lower court denied that motion. The Archbishop appealed.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.


The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (David, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Here's why 93,000 law students rely on our case briefs:

  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners not other law students.
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet.
  • 12,592 briefs - keyed to 169 casebooks.
  • Uniform format for every case brief.
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language.
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions.
  • Ability to tag case briefs in an outlining tool.
  • Top-notch customer support.
Start Your Free Trial Now