motion to strike

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A motion to strike is a request to a judge that part of a party’s pleading or a piece of evidence be removed from the record. During the pleading stage, this can be accomplished by a tool such as Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or a state equivalent. Under Rule 12(f), a part of a pleading can be removed if it is redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous. The motion can be made by a party within an allotted time frame, or can be raised by the court, called sua sponte.

At the trial stage, a party may wish to make a motion to strike to remove evidence–usually part of a witness’s testimony–from the court record, with the jury instructed to disregard the evidence. This is commonly accomplished by raising an objection, which a judge can either sustain or overrule. Such a motion is raised if evidence is irrelevant or prejudicial. It must be made in a timely manner, or else a party may waive the opportunity to raise it later.

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]