How to File Motions

By Mary Corbin
A judge makes a decision on a motion that is filed with the court.

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A motion is a legal tool used to bring specific issues before the court during civil and criminal matters. For example, a motion for discovery can be filed to have the court compel the opposing party to provide evidence relevant to the case. Other types of motions include motion to dismiss, motion to compel and motion for summary judgment. Generally, you file all motions in a similar matter. However, specific guidelines for preparing and filing a motion is set forth by the code of civil/criminal procedure for the particular judicial system in which the case stands. Review these rules before you file motions.

Visit the clerk at the courthouse and ask for motion forms. In most courthouses, forms are available for individuals involved in civil litigation without legal representation. Include the case number and caption into the motion. Keep your reasoning for the motion concise as possible.

Make the appropriate number of copies of the motion. Each court has different filing requirements. These requirements mandate that you bring an exact number of copies of the motion to be filed. Ask the clerk how many copies are needed.

Present the clerk with the original motion and copies. Add a few more copies for your own records to the pile. Request that the motion be filed for the pending case.

Be sure the clerk "file-stamps" each copy of the motion. The stamp shows the official filing date and time. The court keeps the original plus a few chamber's copies. These copies go to the judge and his administrative assistant assigned to the case.

Retain at least two copies of the file-stamped motion to send to the opposing party and to keep for your own records.

About the Author

Mary Corbin began her career writing for online and print media in Indianapolis. Since 2004, she has covered subjects such as home and family, technology and legal issues. Working in the broadcast industry, Corbin created articles for marketing, public relations and business matters. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.

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