Preparing, Filing, and Presenting Motions in Court

Preparing, Filing, and Presenting Motions in Court

Last updated: August 2014

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A motion is a way for you to ask the judge to act or give permission about an issue in the case and get an answer. You can ask the court to:Allow you to do something in the caseForce the other party to do somethingDecide an issue in the caseIf you are the party who files the motion, you are called the "movant" or "moving party."A motion is different from a complaint. The complaint is filed to start a lawsuit and lays out your overall argument. A motion is filed once the case has already started and deals with only one issue.Click on words that appear like 'this' to learn what these words mean.Who can file a motion? Either side in a case can file a motion. So, if you are the plaintiff or defendant, (or petitioner or respondent) in a case, you can file a motion asking the court to do something. Multiple motions can be filed by each side, but you must have a good reason for filing the motion. You can get in trouble with the judge for filing motions for the sole purpose of harassing the other side.Why should I file a motion? There are multiple reasons to file a motion. You could file a motion to ask the court permission to do something. There are many motions that do this, but one that you might use would be a Motion for a Continuance. A Motion for a Continuance asks the court to postpone a court date because you will be unable to attend or because you will not have the necessary information. If granted, the court will give you a new court date.Another type of motion is a motion to ask the court to force the other side to do something. An example of this type of motion is a Motion to Compel Discovery. You would file this motion if you have asked the other side to turn over documents or answer questions during discovery and they refuse. This motion asks the court to force the other side to turn over those documents.You cannot file a motion if you are just filing a motion to delay proceedings, inconvenience other parties, or for other improper reasons. If you do, the Court may sanction you. When should I file a motion? You should file a motion when you first realize that you need the judge to decide something. Once you know that you need permission from the judge or need the judge to answer a question, you should put together your motion and file it with the clerk before sending notice to the other side.Are there special forms that I have to use? Some counties have blank motion and notice of motion forms that you can use. You should check with your court clerk's office to see if there are forms you should use in your case. To find the Clerk's office for your county's court, visit the Illinois Courts' website.What should I put in my motion? What you put in your motion depends on the type of motion you are filing. But there is general information that should be included in each motion. Each motion should include:At the top of your motion, your name, the other party's name, and the case numberA paragraph that describes the basic facts about the case and the particular issue you are concerned with to assist the judge in deciding your motionExactly what you are asking the judge to doThe reasons why the judge should agree with you and "grant" your motionIf you mention any documents in the motion, you should attach copies of those documents when you file your motion.What is a notice of motion? The notice of motion tells the other side that you have filed a motion in the case. The notice of motion lets the other side know the following:That you have filed a motion in the case The type of motion you have filedWhen you are going to courtWhere you are going to courtWhich judge will be hearing your motionDifferent notices of motion are often used for different types of motions, so check with the clerk to see if your notice of motion is correct.How much does it cost to file a motion? Generally, there is no fee for filing a motion. To be sure you will not have to pay a fee, check with the Clerk's office. If you are low income and cannot pay the filing fee, you may ask the Court to waive it. What happens if my motion is granted? What can I do if it is denied? If your motion is granted, you will usually receive an order from the judge. This order is a legal document that can force people to do things. For example, an Order for Possession forces a person to move out of their home. Your order might also have instructions and deadlines for filing things in your case. You should read the order carefully.If your motion is denied, your case goes on and you can still file motions for other things. You can also file a motion to reconsider if:You think the judge made a mistake;There has been a change in the law since the hearing; orYou have new evidence that wasn't available at the hearing.You file a motion to reconsider the same way you filed the original motion.If you think you lost your case because your motion was denied, you can file an appeal.Prepare Your Forms Prepare the particular motion and notice of motion that apply to your case, keeping in mind the specific court rules of the county where you are filing your case.When you fill out the motion, tell the judge what you want. Include the basic facts the judge would need to make a decision. It is important that the judge understand what you are asking for and why. If you talk about any documents in your motion, attach copies for the judge. You will also need to include the date when the motion will be heard. In order to figure out the date, you will need to contact the Clerk’s office to determine when your judge hears motions. Most judges hear motions on specific days of the week. You will need to pick a date that gives you enough time to prepare for the arguments and gives the other side enough time to prepare a response. When you call, you can ask the clerk how much time you need to give the other side between filing your motion and the hearing. To find the Clerk for your county's court visit the Illinois Courts' website. Make at least 3 copies of your motion and notice of motion.Remember: Different motions are often used for different types of cases, so you should make sure to use the motion that applies to your particular issue.File Your Forms with the Court Clerk File the motion and notice of motion with the clerk's office in the court where your lawsuit is filed. Bring all your copies and the originals with you when you file. The clerk will stamp the originals and the copies. The clerk will keep the original and return the copies to you. Make sure you keep one set of copies for your own records.Send the Other Party Notice of the Hearing To give the other party notice, you must deliver stamped copies of the motion and notice of motion either personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested. If the other party has an attorney, send the copies of these forms to the attorney's office.Keep the other copies for your files and to bring with you when you return to court. You must also bring proof that you delivered or sent notice to the other party. This can be a certified mail return receipt, if you mailed the documents, or the other party's signature stating that they received the notice, if you delivered the documents personally. You should also fill out the Proof of Service section on the Notice of Motion detailing the date and time you mailed the documents. Bring a copy of the certified mail receipt with you to court as proof that the form was sent. Also be sure to keep a copy of the Motion for your own records and other copies for use as needed.Go to Your Hearing Date Go to court on the date and time assigned to you by the clerk. Bring an extra copy of your motion and notice of motion in case the judge needs one. Check in with the clerk in your assigned courtroom and wait for your name to be called.Usually, the judge will first hear oral arguments in support of your motion. If you filed the motion, you will get the first chance to tell the judge why you are in court and what you want to see happen in your case. Then the other side will get a turn to tell the judge if they disagree or agree and why. You may be given the opportunity to say the last word. In some circumstances, a judge may want to hold an evidentiary hearing. If that is the case, the judge will ask you to present witnesses and documents in support of your position. Therefore, you should bring any important witnesses or documents with you to court just in case.After hearing from both sides, the judge will issue an Order granting or denying the motion. Make sure you get copies of this Order from the courtroom clerk. Bring the order to the Circuit Clerk's office to be stamped and filed.

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