A court motion is a formal appeal for a judge to take legal action in a case under your control. They are requests you submit to the judge to make a particular legal ruling, like a motion to dismiss a case or a motion to discover information from your adversary.
Court motions help trial attorneys approach the court with greater certainty and purpose, as well as shape your case in the desired way. You can file them at any time in the legal process, whether in a criminal, civil proceeding or anything in between.
This post aims to help you learn what a court motion is, how to write a motion for court, and what court motions do.
What is a court motion?
When you submit a court motion, you are formally requesting the judge to do something. Court motions are formal appeals to the court to perform a particular action in hopes of reaching the desired outcome.
Drafting court motion requires extensive background research and information gathering. You have to understand exactly which motion you can submit, which one would be the most effective, and how to use a motion to your advantage.
Different motions are only applicable at certain periods of a trial, such as before a court proceeding begins or after a verdict. Legal calendaring software can help you keep track of dates and ensure that you always file motions at the most impactful times.
Motions can be a beneficial asset in any legal document management software, which helps you keep all of your important files and details in one secured platform.
Examples of motions in court
Attorney may use many types of court motions to turn a case in their favor. As you review your matter management software, you can easily determine which types of motions would best align with your case and objectives. Some of the most useful motions for court include:
- Motion to dismiss: An attorney can use a motion to dismiss a suit if they want to contend that the case does not qualify for any legal ruling; a motion to dismiss does not contest the other party’s facts but rather argues that the case presented is not liable for a legal ruling.
- Motion to discover: You can file a motion to discover if you want to collect further evidence or information to build your case. Discovery motions allow one party to request information from another, which it can then use to substantiate its own claims.
- Motion to compel: If you asked for information, but a party does not respond, you can use the motion to compel discovery to merit a formal response. Motions to compel are designed to help lawyers use the court’s authority to make another party perform a specific action they have previously refused to do.
- Motion for a directed verdict: Like a motion to dismiss, the motion for a directed verdict requests the court to conclude a case. Only the defense can use a motion for a directed verdict after the prosecution rests its case. This motion argues that the prosecution did not present a valid case and that the defense should not be required to present its own case to the court.
- Motion in limine: Motions in limine can prevent certain evidence from being shown to a jury. Although evidence can be found inadmissible later in a proceeding, its influence on a jury may still be irrevocable. The prosecution may use motions in limine to prevent the defense from presenting previous details about a defendant that are not pertinent to the current charges.
- Motion for a new trial: Motions for a new trial can only be filed after a verdict has been delivered and the attorney believes that there were major flaws resulting in the outcome. The motion for a new trial is not a request for a new ruling, and it can very well result in the same ruling as the first trial. However, a second trial can help correct errors, lower sentences, and reverse any wrongful convictions.
How to prepare a motion for court – legal motion format
When you decide to write a motion, it must be written in plain English. This is not a legal research paper, so avoid jargon whenever possible. You need to speak directly to the court and be extremely clear about what you are requesting and why. Every legal motion include the following:
● A case caption
● A title that surmises the relief you are seeking
● A numbered list of paragraphs that explain why you are seeking that relief
● A prayer for relief or formal appeal
● A signature block
● Certification that copies of the motion were sent to all appropriate parties
● A proposed order
● In some cases, a legal brief
Be as persuasive as possible as you write your motion in a sequential, logical format. Express your ideas clearly, and make sure you outline what steps are necessary and how they will help your case. Use facts of the case whenever you can to avoid baseless emotional appeals. There must be concrete reasons to support your motion. You must also include numbered points throughout your argument so it is easy for the judge and other parties to follow along. Numbered points also demonstrate that you have a strong understanding of your case and have determined why this motion is the most beneficial step for your case at the time.
What tools do lawyers use to write court motions?
Legal client intake software allows attorneys to gather the most important information about their clients before court proceedings. This gives them an easy way to review their information, build their case, and confidently choose motions that steer the court in their favor. Electronic signatures software can help you easily collect the information you need to formalize your motion.
If you are interested in filing motions easily with the right legal software, schedule a demo with CloudLex today.