Motion For New Trial

A request made by a party, after a judgment is entered in a lawsuit, that the judge vacate that judgment and order a new trial. Typically, a motion for new trial argues that the judge made a significant legal error or that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict. In many jurisdictions, a party must make a motion for new trial to reserve the right to make the same arguments on appeal.

Moral Certainty

In a criminal trial, the reasonable belief (but short of absolute certainty) of the trier of the fact (the jury or judge sitting without a jury) that the evidence shows the defendant is guilty. Moral certainty is another way of saying "beyond a reasonable doubt." Because there is no exact measure of moral certainty, it is always somewhat subjective and based on the reasonable opinions of the judge and/or jury. (See also: reasonable doubt)

Mitigating Circumstances


Factors that lessen the severity or culpability of a criminal act, including, but not limited to, defendant's age or extreme mental or emotional disturbance at the time the crime was committed, mental retardation, and lack of a prior criminal record. Recognition of particular mitigating circumstances varies by jurisdiction. 

Illustrative caselaw

See, e.g. Magwood v. Patterson, 130 S.Ct. 2788 (2010).

See also