LAW 522-001 – Civil Procedure II

New Trial


A judge may grant a new trial for any reason for which a new trial has been granted beforehand.

The most common grounds for a new trial are for procedural flaws and substantive flaws.

Procedural Flaws

Procedural flaws are flaws in the procedure of a trial.

If a procedural flaw affects the result of the trial, the only way to correct it is to grant a new trial.

Examples
  • Newly discovered evidence
  • Improper conduct by counsel
  • Jury misconduct
    • Visiting the scene of the incident
    • Reading news about the incident
  • Error by the court
    • Improper jury instructions
    • Improperly admitting or denying evidence
    • Incorrect ruling of law
Substantive Flaws

Substantive flaws are flaws where the jury returned a verdict they should not have.

There are two types of substantive flaws:

  1. Where the jury splits the difference in its verdict
    • E.g., jury must either return a verdict for $10,000 or $0 and it instead returns $5,000.
  2. Where "the verdict is against the great weight of the evidence."
    • Most common ground for a new trial based on a substantive flaw
    • This is a lower standard than for a (renewed) judgment as a matter of law.
    • It must be "quite clear that the jury reached a seriously erroneous result."
    • This standard is somewhere between requiring no reasonable basis and the judge substituting how he would would have voted.

Judges have wide discretion in granting new trials and will only be revered if they abuse their discretion.

A motion for a new trial must be raised within 28 days after the entry of judgment.

Rule 59.

A new trial can concern only one particular issue.

Conditional New Trial

A judge can grant judgment as a matter of law, with the alternative of a new trial if the appellate court rules that judgment as a matter of law is improper. The appellate court would also have to rule the new trial proper however.