The Language of Motion Practice Answers

1: The defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action in negligence should be Denied on the ground that the complaint alleges facts that support all of the elements of a negligence claim.

Motions--applications to a court that typically are made in the course of a lawsuit--are granted or denied; complaints or petitions that initiate a lawsuit or proceeding are subject to dismissal.

2. The plaintiff requests that its motion to quash a subpoena seeking all of plaintiff's business records from the past ten years should be granted on the ground that the subpoena is unreasonably broad in scope.

In law, "quash" means to annul or vacate by judicial action.

3. Ruling on defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim with sufficient particularity, the court granted the motion to dismiss, with leave to plaintiff to replead the complaint.

This is a motion challenging the adequacy of the pleadings (here, the complaint) to give notice of a claim. The term "replevin" also has a specific legal usage, but it refers to an action to recover goods that have been wrongfully taken or detained from the rightful possessor.

4. Charged with multiple counts of possessing illegal fireworks after police officers seized the fireworks from defendant's garage, the defendant moved to suppress this evidence on the ground that the officers did not have a warrant to conduct a search and seizure.

The term "suppress" is used in the sense of preventing evidence from being introduced on the ground that it has been illegally obtained. In some instances, once an order suppressing evidence has been issued, it is difficult if not impossible to continue the prosecution of a case.

5. The defendant opposed the prosecution's offer in evidence of defendant's prior perjury conviction to impeach defendant's credibility in a jury trial, on the ground that the prior conviction was similar to the current charge and that the jurors' awareness of the conviction would prejudice them against the defendant on the basis of her past conduct.

As a point of general usage, the terms "impugn" and "impeach" are both used to refer to a challenge to veracity or integrity. In legal usage, "impeach" refers more specifically to any effort to cast doubt on the veracity of evidence. Another legal usage of "impeach"--to charge a public officer before an authorized tribunal with misconduct in office--is related to, but not synonymous with,"indict," which in law refers to a formal accusation of crime against an individual.