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A motion is a written or oral request to a Commonwealth of Massachusetts court or judge that asks for a ruling or an order that is beneficial to the person asking for the motion, known as the movant. A motion details why the movant is making the request, what the request is, and typically an explanation of the facts of the case or situation that support the request. A judge can say yes or no to the motion, or can schedule a hearing so that the opposing parties in the motion can orally argue their positions before the judge makes a decision on the motion, called an order.

There are several types of motions:

  • A motion to strike is typically requested during witness testimony in a trial, particularly if the witness makes statements that are inadmissible, redundant, scandalous, or otherwise not germane to the case; the motion is to have the inadmissible information deleted or stricken from the court record.
  • A motion to dismiss is when a request is made for the court to dismiss an action because there is no legal basis for the claim that has been made.
  • A motion for summary judgment asks the court to let the facts in the pleadings stand for themselves, without going to trial.
  • A motion in limine asks the court to disallow evidence or referring to issues that would be prejudicial to the movant during a trial.
  • A motion to suppress requests the court to prohibit using evidence that was illegally obtained.
  • A motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict is when a motion is made to have the court enter a judgment that is against what the jury verdict is, because the judge considers the jury’s verdict to be unreasonable.
  • A motion for a new trial seeks a new trial, regardless of the verdict, because the trial wasn’t fair or proper; this can happen when new evidence is made available that might change the outcome of the case.
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