What is a Motion to Reinstate?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A motion to reinstate is a legal filing to request that a matter be reopened. Many courts provide blank paperwork that people can fill out to file this type of motion and such a motion can also be drafted by a lawyer. In addition to reinstatements, there are other measures that people can use to bring a legal matter back into court for further consideration. In all cases, the person filing the motion must be able to show cause or the motion will be denied.

A judge who grants a motion for reconsideration will take a new look at a decision.
A judge who grants a motion for reconsideration will take a new look at a decision.

A common reason to file a motion to reinstate is to bring a case back into court after it has been dismissed or dropped if a party feels that he was not given fair warning. A motion to reinstate can also be used to reinitiate a case that both parties agreed to drop and later decide they want to pursue again. In these cases, the legal filing is used to persuade the judge that the case should be returned to court for a hearing.

Reasons presented with a motion to reinstate can vary. Sometimes, they are provided as a matter of procedure and the judge intends to grant the motion anyway, so people can be brief and simple. In other cases, some thought may need to be involved and a lawyer may be recommended to help people develop and articulate compelling reasons to reinstate a case.

It is important to confirm that the legal filing contains all of the information required by the court. Using a form produced by the court can be helpful with this, as it has fields for all the data the court will need. Court clerks, if they are not busy, may look over motions filed with them at the time of a filing if the motions are short to confirm that they are accurate and complete and if they are not, they will be returned for refiling. People should also take note when they file the motion to ensure that the clerk does indeed receive and record the motion so that it will not be lost in the shuffle.

It is also possible to appeal a decision to dismiss a case. If the appeal is granted, the case will be reopened and heard in court. Another option is a motion for reconsideration, asking the judge to rethink a legal decision reached in a case that has concluded. Such motions are used to argue that the judgment should be altered or amended.

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


@sweetPeas - I agree with you that if a case is dismissed or dropped that there should be a way to bring it back to the courts. And thankfully there is a way, as long as procedures are followed and the judge sees it your way - that you have good reasons for wanting to try again.

And there is yet another way to get a decision changed. When you submit a motion for reconsideration, you are hoping a judge will look again at a decision that was already made. And hopefully the decision will be changed.

This procedure is probably fairly commonly used after divorce decrees are signed. Because of changes in circumstances for a divorced person after divorce, not all bases may have been covered. They feel that they need a second look, and rightly so.


Our legal system leaves a number of doors open for citizens to get fair treatment under the law. A change in circumstances and more evidence produced, can convince people to want to reinstate a case.

I think the courts give them every opportunity to get the case back in court, as long as they file papers properly and they have good reasons to ask for a motion to reinstate.

It's like a second chance. No one is perfect and if they didn't have their case all together, with good evidence, I think they deserve to try again.

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