Attorney Steve discusses how to file a motion like a PRO
How to File a Motion in Court Without an Attorney
A motion is a request for a court to do something in a case that is currently open in that court. Therefore, a motion can be filed only in a case that is open and still in progress. It will usually involve issues such as determining what kinds of documents the parties must turn over to each other, or whether a party has to sit down and answer questions in a deposition. A motion can be a critical, dispositive motion that effectively ends a case, or it can be a "housekeeping" tool, such as a motion to compel document production.
Drafting the Motion
Check if the court has blank motion forms.Some courts have "check the boxes" or "fill in the blank" motion forms. Look for these forms on the court's website, or contact the clerk of the court where your case has been assigned.
- If your court does not have blank motion forms, don't use a blank form from another state. Instead draft your own motion.
Create your caption.Since this is a motion, you should have prior documents in your possession to use as a guide. Look at one of the documents. The heading information is called the caption. Typically, the caption includes the name of the court, the name of the parties, and the case number.
- This information should always remain in the same form in all documents filed in your case, both in content and format. Simply copy the caption from a previous document into your motion.
Title your motion.Your title should tell the court what the motion is about. If you are asking the court for a default judgment, then your title should be "Motion for Default Judgment."
- The title should be two lines below the caption, in bold face, centered in the middle of the page. Use a prior document as a guide.
Draft the introductory paragraph to the body of the motion.In the body, you should begin by identifying yourself as either the Plaintiff or the Defendant, and then state whether you are represented by an attorney or making the motion pro se.
- For example, you could write: "Comes now Plaintiff, Jane Smith, in the above titled action, represented pro per, and moves that the Court…”
Request relief.Every motion is a request for judicial intervention. You want the court to do something. Now, after having laid out your introduction and facts, state what you want the court to do.
- You should use language like the following: “Now comes Plaintiff, Jane Smith, represented pro per, in the above captioned action, and moves this Court for an order compelling Defendant, Michael Smith, to serve on her a response to Plaintiff’s First Request for Document Production…”
Lay out the applicable facts.After the introduction, state the facts of the case that are relevant to your motion. For example, if the defendant has a copy of a contract in his possession and you want to compel its disclosure, then state, "According to information and belief, the Defendant has in his possession or control a contract executed April 15, 2009 between Plaintiff and Defendant."
- It may be easier to write out on a piece of paper what you want the court to do. For example, you may want it to postpone a trial because you have surgery scheduled. Or you may want the court to sanction the Plaintiff for not turning over documents requested. After you have done this, you can go back and identify the key facts that are relevant to your argument.
Make your legal argument.The legal argument will differ depending on the motion you file. To make a legal argument, you need to state the legal rule and then explain how the facts you just listed apply to the legal rule.
- For example, to file a motion for summary judgment, you need to state the summary judgment standard first: "A party is entitled to summary judgment if 'there is no genuine issue as to a material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c)."
- Then, list what facts the party has to prove: “The Plaintiff’s claim of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. sections 2000e et seq., requires that Plaintiff establish, by a preponderance of evidence, an initial showing that: (i) she is female, (ii) she was qualified for the position she held; (iii) she suffered an adverse employment action; and (iv) the adverse action occurred in circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination.”Here, you have listed the source of the law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. sections 2000e) and the facts the law requires the plaintiff to prove (the four elements, listed i-iv).
- Then, argue how the facts uncovered during discovery support your position. Here, because the Defendant is arguing the motion, he will argue that the facts show that the Plaintiff cannot prove at least one of the four factors listed. For example, “The Defendant argues that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate a triable issue of fact as to whether she suffered an adverse employment action. Specifically, Plaintiff claims that she was called a 'thief' during a disciplinary hearing. However, an isolated incident of this nature cannot qualify as an ‘adverse employment action.’ because she was never actually disciplined based on that action.”
Insert a signature block.Begin a new paragraph after the body. Include the statement, "I swear the information contained above is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief." Include a few blank lines for your signature. Then type your name, address, telephone number, and email address so the court or the other party can contact you.
- Also insert a notary block. Many states require motions filed by pro se litigants to be signed in front of a notary public. Search the internet for a notary block acceptable for your state, and copy it below your signature block.
- An acceptable notary certification block might look like this: “I, ______, a Notary Public for the [insert county name] for [insert state] do hereby certify that __________ personally appeared before me this day and acknowledged the due execution of the foregoing instrument. Witness my hand and official seal, this the __ day of ___ 20___.”Then include a line for the Notary’s signature and a line for the date the Notary’s commission expires.
Add a Certificate of Service.You must always notify the other party of any motion that you file, and you must certify that you have served them with a copy of the motion. Two lines beneath the notary block, center the words "Certificate of Service" in bold.
- Many states have a preferred method. Search your state's form list for a certificate of service and insert the language into your motion.
- If you can't find a certificate of service specific to your state, then include the following: "I swear that I have [insert method of service, such as mailed/hand delivered/faxed] a true and correct copy of this document to all persons listed below on [insert the date.]"
Include the Notice of Hearing.Some states also have a separate form that they use for this. If you can't find it on your court's website, then insert "Notice of Hearing" about two lines below the Certificate of Service, in the center of the page.
- Then add: "This motion is set to be heard by ____________ on the ____ day of ____, 20__ in Room ___ of [insert name of courthouse and the address.]"
Sign the motion.If the motion must be notarized, then sign in front of a notary public. Many banks provide notary services free for their customers. You can also find paid notaries at various businesses, such as check cashing companies. Many courthouses also have notary services for a fee.
- Bring acceptable forms of identification, such as driver's license or a passport.
Filing the Motion
Assemble and copy your motion.If you have any attachments to put with the motion, put those attachments behind your motion. Make a copy of the entire packet for your records and a copy for each defendant.
- It is best to keep at least 2 copies for yourself in case the court loses a copy. Then you can give the court a copy while still retaining one for your records.
File your motion.Take the original motion with all attachments to the clerk of the court that is hearing your case and give it to him. This is the filing.
- You should take your copies with you and have them time-stamped as well. By sending a time-stamped copy to the other parties, you signal to them that you have already filed the motion.
Schedule your hearing.While at the clerk's office, ask for a hearing date. If your court has a special method of scheduling motions, then the clerk will let you know. Once your hearing is scheduled, fill in the blanks on the original and all copies of the Notice of Hearing.
Serve your motion.Provide a copy of the motion to each defendant in the same manner that you said you were providing it in the Certificate of Service. Be sure to do this no later than 24 hours after filing your motion.
- Service by sheriff or by a private process server costs a fee. At the courthouse, you can ask how much service by the sheriff will cost. Private service of process can cost between -100. The national average is -75.
QuestionIs it possible to file two motions at the same time?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. If they are for one event as a result of the other, they may be styled under one motion: Motion for Default Judgment and Quiet Title After Default, or Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment, etc. However, if the motions are evidencing two separate actions, they should be on separate documents: Motion to Compel Production of Documents, and Motion for Determination Without Oral Arguments. Since the last two are two clearly different requests, they should each be on their own document. Remember to include a Brief in Support of Motion (your reason for filing the motion with legal citations).Thanks!
QuestionThere was a motion filed in my son's case to dismiss his counsel for being ineffective, and to have a retrial so he could have a fair and just hearing. The judge dismissed his counsel, but didn't address the retrial part of the motion. If a motion is served, does the judge have to acknowledge it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJudges don't have to do anything. If the motion was properly styled, the court should have acted on it. Check for proper wording, such as Notice of Motion for De Novo Hearing, Pending Substitution of Plaintiff's/Defendant's Counsel. Be sure to support your motion with an affidavit of facts as to why and how the legal counsel failed, and what benefit there will be by obtaining new counsel.Thanks!
QuestionwikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThis happened to my son. The IRS had us file his taxes on paper since the website kept kicking it out (due to another taxpayer using my granddaughters SS#). They also had us submit a letter of explanation and a copy of the custody agreement. They sent a check for his tax return and back charged her for what they had paid her.Thanks!
QuestionHow long do I have to file a motion if the other party is not complying?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCheck to see if there are any variances in your local court rules, but the general rule, unless otherwise stated, cites the opposing party has 21 days to respond, before a demand to show cause can be filed. Some courts are 10 days, depending on the status of the case, and the court. And depending on the performance of the parties in suit, the court reserves the right to stipulate a different amount of time.Thanks!
QuestionAfter filing the motion, how many days will it take before the hearing?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe party filing the motion sets the hearing date when the motion is filed with the clerk of the court. "Reasonable" time is usually 10-21 days, depending on the court's calendar, schedule, and your local court rules.Thanks!
QuestionIs there a website or database that I can use to check the status of my case?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. You can go to or contact the Court Clerk's office with the case number, and the clerk will tell you the status of the case. You can request a copy of any order, or simply ask her if there was a ruling.Thanks!
QuestionDoes a motion have to be typed or can it be hand written?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe paperwork states it must be completed using black ink, printed legibly, or with a typewriter.Thanks!
QuestionCan a motion form be filled out by hand or does it have to be typed?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerForm FL-300, Request for Order (filing a motion), states it must be completed using black ink (print legibly) or using a typewriter (at least in California). Check with your local court office of the form itself doesn't specify.Thanks!
Can I ask the judge to hear the case with bank statement evidence of non-paid rent?
What has to be in a motion for parental rights and partial custody
If I got served emergency child custody court papers do I serve my response to the petitioner or his attorney?
How do I file a motion if I am in a different state?
How does someone incarcerated file a motion with no attorney?
Before filing a motion in court without an attorney, check the court's website for a fill-in-the-blank form. If they don't offer blank forms, you'll have to draft your own. Once drafted, make 2-3 copies of your motion and supporting materials. Then, take the original motion and attachments to the court clerk to have it filed. Ask the clerk to time-stamp your copies to verify that you have filed the motion. While at the clerk’s office, request your hearing date.
Video: Motions Part 1: How to ask the court for something
Trousers Fall 2014
21 Sex Moves That Are Guaranteed to Drive Him Crazy
Im A Personal Trainer But I Couldnt Lose 15 Pounds Until I Made This Change
How to Travel on a Tight Senior Budget
Apple improved the search function inside the Photos app
Green Herb and Wensleydale Pancakes with Spinach Recipe
Watch Crenshaw appear on Weekend Update below
Style Profile: Jeremy Piven
Burn Survivor Shares Pregnancy Photos to Inspire Others