How to Draft a Motion for a Summary Judgment

By Hannah Maarv
A plaintiff or defendant can file a motion for summary judgment.

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A motion for summary judgment asks a judge to make the final decision in a civil case before a trial. The plaintiff or the defendant can file the motion. The motion has to show the judge that both parties agree on all the important facts in the case or if all of the facts presented by the non-filing party are true--whether the facts justify the result the non-filing party wants.

Identify the state's rule for summary judgment. The rule can be found in the civil procedure section of the state code. The court website or the state legislature's website will likely have a link to the civil procedure rules for the state.

Learn the legal language used in the rule for summary judgment. "Material facts" is a legal term for important facts the judge looks to when making a decision. "Judgment as a matter of law" is a phrase that asks the judge to rule in the favor of the person filing the motion. The "moving party" is the person filing. The "non-moving party" is the person against whom the motion is filed.

Begin your motion by stating the legal basis for summary judgment and citing the state's civil procedure rule by its number. More than one legal basis can be used, if relevant.

Attach to the motion a "brief," or document explaining why a summary judgment should be granted. A brief contains the facts of the case.

List in the brief all the facts that both parties agree on, if filing on the grounds that the facts aren't in dispute. If necessary, list of all the elements from the statute on which the original case is filed and explain why the facts, if understood in a way most favorable to the non-moving party, don't meet all of the elements identified in the statute. Specify which elements aren't met.

File the motion for summary judgment and the brief with the court clerk and follow the state rules for providing a copy of the motion and the brief to the non-moving party. Generally, mailing the motion is sufficient.

About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Hannah Maarv has been a writer and a researcher since 2006. She specializes in law, culture and religion. Her articles have appeared online at Womenslaw and Patheos. Maarv holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology from Rutgers College and a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University Law School.

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