Judgment as a matter of law


Judgment as a matter of law

Judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) is a motion made by a party, during trial, claiming the opposing party has insufficient evidence to reasonably support its case. JMOL is similar to summary judgment, which is a motion made "before" trial. JMOL is also known as a directed verdict, which it has replaced in American Federal courts.

In United States Federal courts, JMOL is a creation of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 50. JMOL is decided by the standard of whether a reasonable jury could find in favor of the party opposing the JMOL motion. If there is no evidence to support a reasonable conclusion for the opposing party, judgment is entered by the court and the case is over. If there is sufficient evidence to make a reasonable conclusion in favor of the opposing party, but there is equally strong evidence to support an opposite conclusion, the party with the burden of production fails.

Timing is very important in making a motion for JMOL; the motion can only be made once the opposing party has presented its case. In civil cases, the plaintiff presents her case, then the defendant presents his/her case, then the plaintiff may present a rebuttal. So, once the plaintiff has presented his/her case, the defendant may move for JMOL, but the plaintiff may not. Once the defendant has finished presenting his/her case, the plaintiff may move for JMOL, and so may the defendant.

JMOL motions may also be made after the verdict is returned, where they are called "renewed" motions for judgment as a matter of law (RJMOL), but the motion is still commonly known by its former name, judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or j.n.o.v. (from the English judgment and the latin non obstante verdicto). However, in order to move for j.n.o.v., the movant must have moved for a JMOL "before" the verdict as well. This procedural quirk is necessary because it is considered a violation of the 7th amendment for a judge to overturn a jury verdict. Instead, the judge is said in a j.n.o.v. to be reexamining not the verdict, but his previous rejection of JMOL.

See also

*renewed judgment as a matter of law
*new trial
*summary judgment
*judgment notwithstanding the verdict


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