A motion is a request formally made to a judge in an action that seeks an order or judgment. There are a variety of reasons that a party may make a motion in court. Examples may include a request for continuance (postponement), to modify an order, a request to dismiss a case, and many others. Motions are generally in the form of a written petition with legal explanations in support of the motion that are copied to the opposing party. Motions generated during a hearing or a trial may be requested verbally.
A response to a motion is usually expected from the party within a certain amount of time, such as 15 days. If a necessary response is not received, the court may issue a ruling on the motion without the formal response. A motion or a response will generally have the legal reasons that support the motion contained in the documents that accompany the motion, referred to as an affidavit. Some types of motions include:
Motion for more definite statement: A party who is the recipient of a motion may find the statements within to be ambiguous (unclear), that prevents them from crafting a proper response. If this is the case, they may respond by requesting clarification of the legal claims information. If the court approves the motion, the other party then has 15 days to revise the motion, or risk having it dismissed by the court.
Motion for dismissal: A party may file a motion to dismiss the case before an answer (response) is filed citing the following defenses:
- A lack of jurisdiction
- That the venue is improper
- That the process was not sufficient
- That the process of service was not sufficient
Other motions for dismissal may be filed at any point during the proceedings including:
- Asserting that a lack of jurisdiction exists applying to the subject matter
- That a claim has not been stated which qualifies for relief
- That a party who is indispensable in the matter has not been joined. This means that there is a party whose involvement is necessary for jurisdictional purposes or to render a judgment in the action
Motion for summary judgment: In Maryland, this motion is guided by Rule 2-501, which is roughly equivalent to the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure #56. Granting this motion is appropriate when the material facts are not genuinely disputed or a party is eligible for judgment as a matter of law. The moving party may provide information which supports the motion through affidavit, deposition, interrogatories etc. as proof and to reinforce the basis of the claim.
Motion for a new trial: Following an entry of judgment the losing party may request a new trial based on legal errors that occurred. A court may grant a new trial or a part of a judgment if it is severable.