Summary Judgment Preparation for Paralegals

The Paralegal Resource
March 6, 2013 — 1,032 views  
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Summary judgments are defined as the judgments given by a court in favor of one party against the other summarily, i.e. without completing the whole trial. This type of judgment can be issued based on the merits of discrete issues inside the case, or the whole case.

Summary judgment is founded on the motion by any one party which contends that the essential facts have been settled, and so the other party need not be tried. This motion is supported by the declarations made under oath, admissions of factual information, discrete parts from the depositions that are under oath, and a legal argument which argues that no triable issues exit and the settled facts need a summary judgment. If the court is unclear about the triable issue of fact, then the summary judgments are denied.

Purpose of Summary Judgment

The idea behind summary judgments is to reduce the unnecessary litigation by removing some causes of action without trial. The procedures of pleading are very complicated and technical, and are specifically against the party that is against the motion. Any party can move for getting summary judgments. In some cases, both of the parties can move the motion. The judge can also determine if summary judgment is required on her own. All evidences that may be admissible at the trial relative to the Rules of Evidence can support a summary judgment motion.

Summary judgments help in simplifying a trial by dispensing certain claims or issues. In some jurisdictions, the party that applies for summary judgment is taking the risk that even though a judge may support their claim, she might also recognize that it's the non-moving party which is up for judgment according to the law.

Issues Regarding Summary Judgment

The purpose of summary judgment is to act as a tool to provide swift justice according to the due process. Due process and swift justice often result in conflicting interests. As such, this tool may look to be effective in theory but in reality, it presents difficulties when applied into practice.

It is stated in the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 that the summary judgment can be rendered if there's no real issue with the material facts, and the applying party must be given judgment according to law. The Supreme Court has created a Celotex decisions trilogy that articulates the precise standards to be used in determining if a genuine material fact issue exists. But even so, judges usually find this easily applicable standard hard to apply. Some courts frequently struggle with the applicable substantive doctrines needed to make sense of just results.

It is also not easy to pass summary judgments. It requires courage to pass a judgment that may be disagreed by an appellate court, or realizing that the right of the defendant to end the case at appropriate stage is equal to the right of the plaintiff to move the case forward. Summary judgment is a very useful tool if it is used properly and eliminates unnecessary litigation.

The Paralegal Resource