Motion Definition

Legal Definition of Motion

In the legal context, a motion is a formal request made by one party in a legal proceeding to a judge or court for a specific action or decision. Motions are a fundamental aspect of the legal process, allowing parties to address various issues, seek rulings, or request specific orders during a case. Motions serve as a means for parties to advance their positions, clarify legal matters, and ensure procedural fairness in court proceedings.

Key aspects of motions include:

  • Formal Request: A motion is a formal written or oral request submitted to the court. It must clearly state the relief or action sought and provide legal arguments and supporting evidence.
  • Party Initiating the Motion: In most cases, motions are initiated by one of the parties involved in the legal proceeding. The party making the motion is referred to as the “movant” or “moving party.”
  • Response by Opposing Party: After receiving notice of a motion, the opposing party, known as the “respondent” or “non-moving party,” has the opportunity to respond to the motion and present counterarguments.
  • Judicial Decision: The judge presiding over the case reviews the motion, considers the arguments and evidence presented, and issues a ruling or decision. The judge’s decision may grant or deny the relief requested in the motion.
  • Types of Motions: There are various types of motions, including motions to dismiss, motions for summary judgment, motions for continuance, motions to compel discovery, and motions for injunctive relief, among others. Each type of motion serves a specific purpose in the legal process.

Common types of motions in legal proceedings include:

  • Motion to Dismiss: A motion asking the court to dismiss the case, typically on the grounds that the complaint or petition fails to state a valid legal claim.
  • Motion for Summary Judgment: A motion seeking a judgment in favor of one party based on the undisputed facts of the case, typically when there is no genuine issue of material fact.
  • Motion to Compel Discovery: A motion requesting that the court order the opposing party to provide requested documents, information, or responses to interrogatories during the discovery phase of litigation.
  • Motion for Continuance: A motion asking the court to postpone or reschedule a hearing or trial due to various reasons, such as the unavailability of a key witness or attorney.
  • Motion for Injunctive Relief: A motion seeking a court order to prevent a specific action or to require a party to take a certain action, often in cases involving irreparable harm or violations of rights.

The process for filing and responding to motions may vary by jurisdiction and court rules. In most cases, motions are accompanied by legal briefs or memoranda that provide detailed arguments and legal authorities to support the requested relief. Oral arguments may also be presented during motion hearings.

Motions play a critical role in shaping the course of legal proceedings and ensuring that the rights and interests of all parties are considered and protected. They allow parties to address legal issues, request remedies, and seek clarity on procedural matters throughout the litigation process.

In summary, a motion in the legal context is a formal request made by one party to a judge or court for a specific action or decision. Motions serve as a mechanism for parties to advance their positions, seek rulings, and address legal issues during the course of legal proceedings.


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