What does a "Motion to Strike" Mean?

Dee S.
Dee S.

A motion to strike is a way for one party to let the court know she believes that all or part of a pleading or testimony of the opposing party is insufficient, immaterial, redundant, impertinent, or even scandalous. This motion means the party filing it wants the irrelevant or scandalous testimony or pleading to be stricken. The party filing the motion is requesting that the judge remove part or all of a pleading or testimony of the opposing party.

Moving to strike can be a request to wipe out part or all of someone's testimony.
Moving to strike can be a request to wipe out part or all of someone's testimony.

In a lawsuit, a plaintiff typically files a suit against a defendant. The defendant has a chance to respond to the allegations and even present her defenses, which will generally indicate why the defendant did what she is accused of doing, but they can also give the defendant a chance to bypass guilt. The judge and jury will read the complaint and the defendant’s response. Moving to strike is simply an attempt to wipe out part or all of a defendant’s defenses or a plaintiff’s complaint.

Most often, a motion to strike is a written request, although it can occur in oral form in a courtroom.
Most often, a motion to strike is a written request, although it can occur in oral form in a courtroom.

Although it can be made orally during the course of a courtroom trial, moving to strike is most often made in writing. If it is made orally during a courtroom trial, the judge will be asked to strike answers that were given by a witness. The answers are usually stricken if they violate rules of evidence or laws of what is allowable during a trial. Regardless of whether it is made orally or in writing, the party making the motion must explain exactly why a pleading is irrelevant, immaterial, or scandalously erroneous. Once a motion is granted or approved, the jury and all the parties involved in the case must ignore the portion of the pleading that has been stricken.

Although a motion to strike is often used in a courtroom setting, it can also be used during the course of legal proceedings outside the courtroom. For example, a plaintiff for a case can move to strike declarations made by witnesses on behalf of the defendant. If the court grants the motion, it would be as if the declarations were never made, while if the court does not grant the motion, then the declarations remain in place.

Anytime this motion is made, the opposing party is given the opportunity to respond. After a response is made, the original party moving to strike can file a reply. Eventually, the judge must ponder the issue and make a statement as to whether the motion has been granted or denied.

Many countries use the motion to strike during their legal processes. In the United States, all of the states allow a party to strike all or part of a pleading as stated in Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In Canada and Australia, attorneys move to strike pleadings as well, although some countries, such as India, don't use the motion. Generally, there are set rules stating how many days a party has to strike part of a pleading, and in most cases, if the party moving to strike does not do so in the appropriate time frame, the opportunity is lost.

A "motion to strike" means one party wants court testimony to be stricken from the record.
A "motion to strike" means one party wants court testimony to be stricken from the record.
Dee S.
Dee S.

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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Discussion Comments

anon304401

If the Plaintiff strikes his own complaint (he did), does that mean he must start over with proper service to bring a new complaint?

anon292129

What is the time limit in federal court for responding to a motion to strike?

ddljohn

@anon164350-- I believe you can also motion to extend the deadline to prepare and file more objections and responses. I think a party will motion to strike and will simultaneously motion to extend the deadline just in case they will need to do so again.

But if the judge denies the motion to extend the deadline, then you can't motion to strike or respond to that specific testimony again.

I think sometimes it's hard to follow up on this, especially since the deadline to motion to strike is just 20 days after the appeal. You have to act quick and have a good appeal to have it stricken in that time frame.

candyquilt

Does the motion to strike apply to evidence as well? If one party presents "evidence" that is fake or unrelated, can the other party ask for the evidence to be stricken from record?

anon164350

If one files a Motion to Strike another party's motion (as opposed to responding to the other party's motion), and if the judge denies the Motion to Strike after the deadline to file a response passes, can a response still be filed and when is a response due to the original motion? Did the response clock stop while the Motion to Strike was being considered? Does the deadline clock reset after the judge denies the Motion to Strike?

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