What is a Motion to Reconsider?

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  • Written By: Mona D. Rigdon
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 01 March 2020
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In the legal system, a motion is the vehicle by which a party puts a request before the court. There are many types of motions. After a motion has been heard and a judge has issued a ruling or a case has been tried in court, a motion to reconsider might be made by the unsuccessful party. A motion to reconsider asks the judge to reconsider a ruling he or she has made, to withdraw it and to issue a new ruling. The motion generally states particularly which issues the judge has misunderstood or on which issues the judge might have deviated from the law, and it cites statutory and case law as well as an argument in brief on the merits of the motion.

Case law exists that explains when a motion to reconsider is proper. This type of motion should be filed in attempts to correct manifest errors of fact or law, present new evidence not available during trial or correct a situation where the court significantly misunderstood a party or made a decision outside the scope of the issues presented by the parties. Other instances when the motion would be proper include significant changes in the law since the case was submitted to the court.


Motions to reconsider might arise in all areas of the legal system. An example that shows the path to this motion starts with a hypothetical civil case in the United States. The plaintiff, or person bringing the lawsuit against another party, files a case in federal court against his neighbor for blocking the creek that used to run through the pastures of both landowners. The alleged damages are less than the jurisdictional limits of the federal court, so the defendant, or person answering the charges, files a motion to remand the case to state court. Legal counsel for the plaintiff responds to the motion and says that because their property is in different states, a question of diversity exists, and federal court is the proper forum. After consideration, the judge rules to leave the case in federal court, because neither state has proper jurisdiction.

Although it sounds simple and decided on the surface, another issue exists. The defendant files a motion to reconsider. The motion asks the judge to withdraw his order remanding the case to state court and issue a new order that clarifies that the case will be heard in federal court. This motion, the defendant alleges, is proper based on the fact that part of the plaintiff's property lies in another state, but the majority of the property, including the plaintiff's residence, lies within the same state as the defendant's property and residence. Although the judge's initial decision seemed proper on the surface, given the additional information, there was another dimension to consider.

In cases such as the example cited, a hearing might be held in front of the judge to allow both parties to give oral arguments and to present physical evidence to the judge for consideration. With a case such as this, the judge might review deeds, surveys or other official documents that relate to the location of the land. After considering the new allegations, arguments and evidence, the judge would make a ruling to affirm his or her original decision or withdraw it and issue a new order. Many times, an unsuccessful motion to reconsider leads to a notice of appeal, and a higher court determines whether the judge was within his or her authority and within the law to rule as he or she did.


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Post 3

If a reconsideration of sentence is granted and the inmate accepts reduction of sentence, can the case still be brought before the court of appeals?

Post 2

Could anyone please cite the law that gives the right to file a motion to reconsider?

Post 1

Why do they say this after the house of representatives passed it by yeas and nays?

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