Judgment notwithstanding verdict
in the United States
JNOV is the practice in American courts whereby the presiding judge in a civil jury trial may overrule the decision of a jury and reverse or amend their verdict. In literal terms, the judge enters a verdict notwithstanding the jury findings. This intervention, often requested but rarely granted, permits the judge to exercise discretion to avoid extreme and unreasonable jury decisions.
A judge is not allowed to enter a JNOV of "guilty" following a jury acquittal in United States criminal cases because it would violate a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury. However, if the judge grants a motion to set aside judgment after the jury convicts, this may be reversed on appeal by the prosecution, as the verdict was different previously.
A JNOV is appropriate only if the judge determines that no reasonable jury could have reached the given verdict. For example, if a party enters no evidence on an essential element of their case, and the jury still finds in their favor, the court may rule that no reasonable jury would have disregarded the lack of evidence on that key point and reform the judgment.
Reversal of a jury's verdict by a judge occurs when the judge believes that there were insufficient facts on which to base the jury's verdict, or that the verdict did not correctly apply the law. This procedure is similar to a situation in which a judge orders a jury to arrive at a particular verdict, called a directed verdict. In fact, a judgment notwithstanding the verdict is occasionally made when a jury refuses to follow a judge's instruction to arrive at a certain verdict.
- Rule 50(b). Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
- Rule 50(a). Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
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