What is a Directed Verdict?
A motion for a directed verdict asks the judge to direct a verdict against the opposing party. This motion is made before the case is submitted to the jury. If the judge grants the motion for directed verdict the judge will order the jury to return a verdict for the party that requested the directed verdict.
When is a Directed Verdict Used?
A directed verdict is only proper in situations where a reasonable jury could not find for the opposing party.
The defendant can move for a directed verdict after the plaintiff rests her case. If the judge grants this motion, the case is over and the defendant wins. If the judge denies the motion, the defendant has an opportunity to present evidence. Following the defendant’s case in chief the plaintiff can move for a directed verdict.
The plaintiff can also move for a directed verdict. Plaintiff’s often move for a directed verdict on negligence.
Normally a directed verdict occurs after both parties have had a chance to present their case in chief. There is no need for the jury to decide the case after a judge orders a directed verdict.
Are Directed Verdicts Common?
Judges have discretion when determining whether they should grant motions for directed verdicts. There are two reasons why some judges are reluctant to grant motions for directed verdict. Sometimes judges are not willing to grant a motion for directed verdict because the judge is unwilling to take the case out of the jury’s hands. For this reason, directed verdicts are not very common. However, a judge will grant a motion for directed verdict if it is clear that a reasonable jury could not find for the opposing party.
Judges also consider judicial economy when considering whether they should grant a directed verdict. When a judge grants a directed verdict, it is likely that the opposing party will appeal this decision. Judges want to make sure that judicial resources are not wasted in reviewing directed verdicts that should not have been granted. This is one reason why judges want to be certain that no reasonable jury could find for the opposing party when granting a motion for directed verdict.