Civil Pretrial Motion Lawyers
What are Pre-Trial Motions?
Motions are documents filed with the court requesting the court to do something, such as admit or exclude an item of evidence. Pretrial motions are brought before the formal start of a trial. They must be specifically requested in order to be valid and will be deemed waived if not raised during the proper time frame. They are usually attached to a strict deadline.
Pretrial motions can often have the effect of shortening a trial. This is because their purpose is to set the boundaries for the upcoming litigation. For example, witness testimonies, acceptable uses of evidence, and legal arguments are all affected by the filing of pretrial motions. A pretrial motion can also be used to have the case entirely dismissed, which would save valuable resources such as money and time.
What are Some Common Examples of Pre-Trial Motions?
There are a variety of pre-trial motions available for each party in a civil cause of action. Some of the more commonly used pretrial motions are:
- Motions in Limine: Admit or exclude specific items of evidence
- Change of venue: change the court location where the trial will be heard
- Prevent or allow specific witnesses from testifying
- Exclude or suppress a defendant’s statements
- Require the opposing party to produce evidence for trial
- Summary Judgment: Have the judge issue an automatic ruling based on the undisputed facts of the case
- Pretrial Motion to Dismiss: Dismiss the case altogether without having to hear the legal arguments
How are specific Pretrial Motions used in a civil suit?
For civil claims, two of the more commonly employed pretrial motions are: motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment.
A motion to dismiss requests the judge to dismiss the case altogether before the merits of the case are reached in trial. This may be done for various reasons, such as a lack of supporting facts or if the claim is frivolous. This is common in personal injury cases where it cannot be shown that the person was actually injured.
A motion for summary judgment requests the judge to issue an automatic ruling because there are no disputed facts in the case. This frequently the case in employment discrimination matters, where both sides stipulate (agree) that the facts are undisputed. These are usually only available in civil lawsuits.
Do I need a Lawyer for a civil Pretrial Motion?
Filing a pretrial motion can be a very complex process involving deadlines and procedures that must be rigorously adhered to. A pretrial motion has the potential to shape the entire outcome of a case, so it is best to work closely with an experienced lawyer. An attorney can help inform you if any pretrial motions are available and how they will affect the disposition of your case.
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Last Modified: 01-06-2012 12:02 PM PST
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