How to Write a Legal Motion for Civil Court

By John Toivonen - Updated April 07, 2017

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If you are representing yourself in a civil case you may need to draft a legal motion. You can file a motion with a court by following the specific guidelines of the court you are addressing. While it is best to have an attorney do one for you, you can usually accomplish this task with some guidelines. There are numerous types of motions in civil court. All are designed to set a legal case into motion.

Writing a Legal Motion

State Required Legal Information


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The top part of the motion should state the court of jurisdiction, the name of the judge, the case number and the names of the plaintiff and defendant. It should look as follows:

Sally Smith Plaintiff


Jack Smith Defendant File No. 03-1234 Hon. John G. McBain

Use Bold Capital Letters


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The next step is to write the words of your motion in bold capital letters. This tells the court what you are seeking to have done. It should read like the example below.

State Your Legal Intentions


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After typing the name of the motion, you need to include a sentence that states the plaintiff's name and the description of the legal motion you are filing. This sentence can read as follows:

Demand a Jury


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Next, your motion must include a legal demand for a jury trial. It should state the specific state law that addresses your case. In this instance, it is the law regarding summary disposition. It can read like the following statement:

Include Specifics


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Finally, your motion must include specifics regarding your case. The facts should state the significant aspects of your case. If you rented an apartment, mention this fact. If you had your car damaged because the defendant drove his car into your car, mention this fact. The law should address the duties that the defendant has not fulfilled. The examples below relate to a case where the plaintiff is suing the defendant, the landlord, for not protecting her from another tenant whom she believes has harassed her.

Date and Sign


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After stating the reasons for the motion, the plaintiff should date the motion and sign it. It should look like the following example:

March 25, 2009 Respectfully Submitted:


You can find examples of legal motions in a legal library.


Make sure that you use the correct number for the law which you are citing.

About the Author

John Toivonen is an attorney in Lansing, Mich., and has been a professional writer since 1999. His work has appeared in "The Washington Times." He holds a Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Guilford College.

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