Judgment notwithstanding verdict
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in the United States
|Resolution without trial|
Judgment notwithstanding the verdict, also called judgment non obstante veredicto, or JNOV, is a type of judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) that is sometimes rendered at the conclusion of a jury trial. In U.S. federal civil court cases, the term has been replaced by the term judgment as a matter of law. In U.S. federal criminal cases, the term is "judgment of acquittal."
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; such an action would violate a defendant's Fifth Amendment right not to be placed in double jeopardy and Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury. If the judge grants a motion to set aside judgment after the jury convicts, however, this action may be reversed on appeal by the prosecution.
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. A judgment notwithstanding the verdict is occasionally made when a jury refuses to follow a judge's instruction to arrive at a certain verdict.
- See Rule 50, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended through Dec. 1, 2015.
- See Rule 29(c), Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended through Dec. 1, 2015.
- Rule 50(b). Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
- Rule 50(a). Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
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