Make an objection: This is how you tell the judge you believe the other side should not be permitted to provide evidence about something it wants to show. The “objection” is your legal reason it should not be allowed. For example, you might say, “Objection. Calls for hearsay” if you think a question asked can only be answered by relying on hearsay. Note that you are objecting to the question rather than the answer.
Mistrial: This occurs when something so severely prejudicial is improperly brought to the jury’s attention that one cannot rationally expect them to forget or ignore it. Allegations of drug use or sexual improprieties can often be the basis of mistrials. In debt cases, certain information about the debt or the debt collector’s behavior, or the defendant’s other debts, can sometimes be the basis for mistrials, although it is very rare.
Motion: The way you formally draw the judge’s attention to something and ask him or her to do something for you. In some jurisdictions, the court imposes a fee for every motion. If you live in such a jurisdiction, and lack money to pay the fee, you can apply for “in forma pauperis” status, in which the court waives the fees.
Motion docket: Like the call docket, only it is a list of all the people who will have their motions heard at a hearing on a given day.
Motion for directed verdict: This is a motion you make after the other side has put on all of its evidence in its case in chief. You ask the judge to find, as a matter of law, that the evidence put on by the other side is not enough to allow the jury to rule in its favor. If the court grants the motion, it dismisses with prejudice.
Motion for Summary Judgment: At almost any point in the process of a lawsuit, you could ask the judge to “find as fact” certain facts that the parties agree to (or don’t dispute with evidence – thus it is not enough to argue to oppose a motion for summary judgment, you have to introduce evidence, usually). The judge then figures out whether the facts as agreed give one side or the other the right to the legal relief it is seeking, and if they do, then the judge issues a judgment as to that claim.
Motions hearings: This is the hearing on a motion one of the parties brings. Either side can notice a hearing—not just the one who filed the motion.
Motion to compel production: This is a motion one of the parties brings to require the other one to answer interrogatories or provide responses to requests for documents or for admissions. These motions are controlled by the Rules of Civil Procedure. In most or all jurisdictions there is a specific rule telling you what you can get if you win on a motion to compel, and there are usually Local Rules, which say what you must do before you bring one.
Motion to dismiss: A motion to kick a case out because there is no law against what the other party did. For purposes of this motion, the facts claimed in the petition or counterclaim by the party against the motion are considered to be all true.
Motion to strike: You are asking the court to get rid of something—to strike a claim or a factual allegation in the complaint or counterclaim, or to tell the jury to “disregard” (ignore) certain testimony. Such a motion at trial removes the evidence from the record, and it cannot be used to support a finding (if granted).
Motion to Vacate: where a defendant asks the court to vacate or eliminate a previous order granting a default judgment against the defendant. Different states have different rules on how this is done, but all require some sort of excuse for the failure to appear in the first place. Many also require that you show a defense to the claims against you.
Movant: The party bringing a motion—that is, “moving” (asking) the court to take some specified action.
Move to strike: This is what you say when you want the judge to tell the jury to ignore certain testimony that it heard but which was against the rules of evidence for it to hear. Sometimes the testimony is so bad that you must move for a mistrial—you say the jury can’t possibly be fair after hearing something it should not have heard.