A motion for directed verdict is a motion by a party asking the trial judge to issue a ruling after determining that there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to reach a different conclusion. The motion is made by a party before the case is submitted to the jury and argues that no reasonable jury could find for the opposing party.
In the federal court system, directed verdicts have largely been replaced by judgment as a matter of law. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 50 governs the standard for judgment as a matter of law in civil cases. If denied, the motion can also be renewed after a jury verdict as a Rule 50b motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 29 governs the standard for directed verdicts in criminal law, known as judgment of acquittal.
[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]