A motion for judgment in California pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 631.8 is the topic of this blog post. The biggest advantage of a motion for judgment is that unlike a motion for a nonsuit, a trial court may weigh the evidence and make factual findings based on the evidence the plaintiff or opposing party presented.
After a party has completed presentation of evidence in a court trial, the other party, without waiving the right to offer evidence in support of his or her defense or in rebuttal in the event the motion is not granted, may move for a judgment. Thus it is somewhat similar to motion for nonsuit. However, a motion for judgment differs from a motion for nonsuit in that it can only be used in a non-jury or bench trial.
Code of Civil Procedure § 631.8 states that,
“(a) After a party has completed his presentation of evidence in a trial by the court, the other party, without waiving his right to offer evidence in support of his defense or in rebuttal in the event the motion is not granted, may move for a judgment. The court as trier of the facts shall weigh the evidence and may render a judgment in favor of the moving party, in which case the court shall make a statement of decision as provided in Sections 632 and 634, or may decline to render any judgment until the close of all the evidence. The court may consider all evidence received, provided, however, that the party against whom the motion for judgment has been made shall have had an opportunity to present additional evidence to rebut evidence received during the presentation of evidence deemed by the presenting party to have been adverse to him, and to rehabilitate the testimony of a witness whose credibility has been attacked by the moving party. Such motion may also be made and granted as to any cross-complaint.
(b) If it appears that the evidence presented supports the granting of the motion as to some but not all the issues involved in the action, the court shall grant the motion as to those issues and the action shall proceed as to the issues remaining. Despite the granting of such a motion, no final judgment shall be entered prior to the termination of the action, but the final judgment in such action shall, in addition to any matters determined in the trial, award judgment as determined by the motion herein provided for.
(c) If the motion is granted, unless the court in its order for judgment otherwise specifies, such judgment operates as an adjudication upon the merits.”
A California Court of Appeal has ruled that a motion for judgment allows the trial court to dispense with the need for a party, usually but not always the defendant, to present evidence when, after weighing the evidence at the close of the plaintiff’s case, the court is persuaded that the plaintiff has failed to sustain its burden of proof.
Another California Court of Appeal has ruled that while a motion for judgment is usually made by a defendant the same principles apply to a motion by the plaintiff at the close of the defendant’s case.
For non-jury trials, the motion for judgment is used in place of the motion for nonsuit as a means to challenge the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s evidence. See Combs v. Skyriver Communications, Inc. (2008) 159 Cal.App. 4th 1242, 1262.
As with a motion for nonsuit a judgment operates as an adjudication upon the merits unless the court in its order for judgment otherwise specifies. See Code of Civil Procedure section 631.8(c).
And a defendant or other party prevailing on a motion for judgment is entitled to recover their costs. See Code of Civil Procedure section 1032(b).
Attorneys or parties who would like to view a portion of a sample 14 page motion for judgment that includes a memorandum of points and authorities, sample declaration and proposed order sold by the author can see below.
The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is an entrepreneur and freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 245 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation.
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Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.
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