How would one begin writing a motion for summary judgment?
A summary judgement is imparted by the court before starting an actual trial because the evidence is so strong that there is no need for a trial, as there is nothing left for the factfinder to find. Since it is the goal of the party moving for summary judgement to demonstrate to the judge that the evidence is indisputable, the party writing the motion wants to clearly lay out all of the "claims in the case, including third-party complaints, counterclaims, cross-claims, intervention, and interpleader" ("Drafting a Successful Motion for Summary Judgment"). There is also a specific format that the party wants to use in writing the motion, as well as very specific wording and headings to use. In general, one should follow the prescribed wording and format; the only places where your wording will be original is with respect to the wording you use to lay out your own case's arguments.
Your first goal is to make the motion very easy for the judge or clerk to find. Hence, according to Nina E. Kallen, Attorney at Law, in the article, "Writing Your First (Or Next) Summary Judgement," your heading should be very direct and specific and state:
- DEFENDANT JANE DOE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT
The next portion should be the BODY OF MOTION. Since it takes time for the judge to read over the motion and the evidence, as well as to write up the summary judgement, we want the motion to be as brief and easy to read as possible. Therefore, the body of motion should be no longer than two pages and preferably only one page long. For this section, as Kallen states, you want to begin:
Now comes the defendant Jane Doe and respectfully moves for summary judgement. As grounds, Jane Doe states that ....
Following that statement, the party lists all of the arguments for the motion.
Again, according to Kallen, the motion is ended with the statement: "In further support of this motion, Ms. Doe relies on the attached memorandum of law."
It will be in the memorandum where you lay out all of the evidence collected before and during discovery that can be proved to be indisputable. According to Kallen, the memorandum should be headed with the following:
DEFENDANT JANE DOE'S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF HIS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT
You will also want an introduction for your memorandum, which should, according to Kallen, begin with the statement:
Defendant Jane Doe respctfully moves for summary judgement. As reasons for this motion ....
Following your introductory statement, you again list your arguments for the motion, just like you did in the actual motion. There is a disagreement among law practitioners as to whether or not you should use the exact same language in the memorandum as you used in the actual motion: Some argue you should not repeat yourself word-for-word; others argue that if you have already used the "best, clearest, most concise" language, then there would be no point not to repeat it ("Writing Your First").
In your memorandum, you will also include your list of undisputed facts, being sure to cite each fact with an exhibit; you will also include an argument section and a conclusion. For more detailed instructions on those, please see those sections in the article, "Writing Your First (Or Next) Summary Judgement." A link to a full sample of a summary judgement motion is also provided below.