Definition: Motions

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Modified on 2009/10/14 21:43 by admin
While the pleadings (complaint, answer, counter-claim, etc.) consist of the primary substantive documents in the case, motions are largely procedural requests made by the Plaintiff and the Defendant. It is helpful to think of the pleadings as the primary documents of the case and the motions as secondary. Some common motions include:

1. Motion to Dismiss - The Defendant typically will file a motion to dismiss claiming that the Plaintiffs complaint is not written correctly and as such the case should be thrown out. If the judge grants the Defendants motion to dismiss, the judge will usually allow the Plaintiff time to re-write the complaint and file it again.

2. Motion for a More Definite Statement - The Defendant may file this motion requesting the judge to require the Plaintiff to provide the Defendant with more details regarding the alleged wrongdoing. If the Defendants motion is granted, the Plaintiff will be required to amend his complaint to comply with the judges order.

3. Motion for Summary Judgment - Either party may file this motion and it is usually filed after the Defendant has served or provided his answer to the Plaintiff''s complaint. This is an important motion as its aim is to resolve the case before any arguments are actually made in a courtroom. Often both the Plaintiff and the Defendant file their own motions for summary judgment asking the judge to read over the pleadings (complaint, answer, counter-claim, etc.) and make a decision based strictly on the pleadings. The judge will then decide whether there is enough information contained in the pleadings themselves for him to make a determination. If there is, he decides immediately who wins. Often, the judge needs more information to make his determination and therefore denies the motion(s) and sets the case for a trial at which both sides will present witnesses and argue their cases directly to the judge or jury.

While there are other motions that the parties may choose to exploit, the ones listed above are some of the most common. Filing motions often delays the case and can therefore sometimes be frustrating to the Plaintiff who is anxious to resolve his claim. However, one benefit to the tedious filing of motions by the Defendant is that it allows the Plaintiff to get a real sense of the strengths and weaknesses of the case.

See Also

  1. What is a Lawsuit
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