What is a Motion to Comply?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A motion to comply is a legal request made to force someone involved in a case to take a specific action. The motion is brought before a judge who rules on whether or not to grant it. If the judge determines that the motion should be granted, an order is issued to the target of the motion. Failure to comply with this order can result in legal penalties, including fines and jail time.

A motion to comply is brought before a judge who rules on whether or not to grant the motion.
A motion to comply is brought before a judge who rules on whether or not to grant the motion.

More properly known as a motion to compel, a motion to comply is commonly filed when people do not receive an adequate response to a previous request. For example, people involved in a suit go through a period known as discovery, where motions can be filed to request that opposing counsel show evidence or respond to written questions. If the other side does not respond or provides incomplete responses, a motion to comply can be filed to order that side to respond.

In order to file a motion to comply, a lawyer must outline the desired action and explain why the target of the motion should be legally compelled to follow through with it. Sometimes this is a very straightforward process. For example, if an attorney knows that the opposing counsel is retaining a letter instead of surrendering it during the discovery process, that attorney can order that the letter be produced. In other cases, an attorney may need to show that a response to a discovery request is incomplete without being able to specifically describe what is missing.

In addition to requesting that the judge issue an order to force compliance, a motion to comply can also be used to request sanctions against someone. If a party has failed to comply with previous legal requests, a judge is empowered to use sanctions such as fines and other measures. Judges may grant a request to sanction if it is evident that this party is behaving in contempt, rather than making an innocent mistake.

Different legal systems have varying legal procedures, and the rules of procedure also change at different levels of the legal system. A legal education is designed to provide people with the information they need to follow procedure but attorneys practicing in unfamiliar environments may need to consult statutes and established guidelines for procedure to confirm that they are doing things right. Failure to follow procedure can mean that a motion will be rejected because it is not presented properly.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


What if the opposing attorney commits perjury by using a made up person? She said she served this person papers for a lawsuit at out home, then in her declarations said that this person was living with us for a year, rent free. She did this so the judge in the court proceedings would rule in her favor, making us have to post a bond, which led to us being evicted. We were ousted by the sheriff where I have a life estate and lived there for 32 years. I am now homeless and not getting my inheritance, stocks IRA, dividends, life estate. What I have gotten is ousted illegally from my home. All the contents of home, my property and my father’s -- a whole home of 45 years, taken to a storage facility, and I must take over contact or have it auctioned.

I am a disabled, dependent adult. I receive $760 a month and the storage rent is $1140 a month. They are forcing me to take over a contract I can’t pay, and they have made me homeless. I need to stop him. I have all the evidence of him committing concealment, theft, fraud, and documents with signatures from the bank, stealing 100 percent of the financial control of a trust, then suing me in court with no representation or any money because he has kept it for himself.

I also have a deposition of him admitting everything he has done, so as to steal the trust and my home. Can anyone help me, or do I strong arm my home back and pray it doesn't get ugly?

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