How to Write a Legal Statement of Fact

By Teo Spengler
A judge, a document, the bench, a gavel

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A judge makes rulings in a court case by applying the appropriate law to the facts of a particular case, and often the parties argue about both law and facts. When you ask the court to rule on an issue, you usually file a memorandum that starts by giving your version of the facts.

Motion Practice

When you are a party to a court case and you want the judge to make a ruling, the written paper you file to present the request is called a motion. You also give a copy of the motion and supporting papers to the other party, and she may file papers opposing your arguments. You then have a limited period of time to write and file a reply memorandum, responding to the points raised.

Motion and Memorandum in Support

While your motion describes the ruling you wish the court to make, it does little more. With it you file a memorandum in support, a longer document setting out the relevant facts of the case and presenting your argument about how the law should be applied to those facts. In some motions, your version of facts may be opposed by the other side; in others, your facts may be undisputed.

Drafting a Statement of Facts

If the facts relevant to the motion are not open to dispute, your statement of facts need not be lengthy. Sometimes both sides agree on the statement of facts relevant to the matter before the court. Usually, however, each side writes its own, attempting to describe the facts in a manner advantageous to itself. Some attorneys describe the statement of facts as an implicit argument and suggest that you arrange and emphasize the facts you present in order to lead the judge to the desired conclusion.

Summary Judgment Motion

In some motions, the statement of facts must not only recite the facts but also tell the judge what evidence supports each fact. For example, in a motion for summary judgment, one party is telling the court that no important facts are open to dispute and that, because of that, the court should decide the entire case by applying the law to those facts. A statement of facts for a summary judgment motion lists the relevant facts and, after each, references the evidence proving that fact to be true.

About the Author

Living in France and Northern California, Teo Spengler is an attorney, novelist and writer and has published thousands of articles about travel, gardening, business and law. Spengler holds a Master of Arts in creative writing from San Francisco State University and a Juris Doctor from UC Berkeley. She is currently a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts in fiction.