In a previous post we looked at whether a court could “undo” an erroneous verdict where new evidence was discovered after a verdict was entered. While this is possible – a case can be reopened” so that a judge or jury can consider the case anew with the additional evidence – reopening a case by vacating the judgment entered is a decision resting largely in the discretion of the trial court. In fact, the alleged “new evidence” must meet certain requirements before a court would even entertain the idea of vacating a judgment.
What Type of Evidence Will Encourage a Court to Vacate a Judgment
In order for the court to entertain a motion by a party for a new trial (i.e., to vacate the existing judgment) on account of newly discovered evidence, the evidence must be such that:
- The result of the trial would likely have been different. Only evidence that is of a substantial nature will support a request for a new trial. If the evidence would likely have little effect on the outcome of the case, a motion for new trial will be denied.
- It has been discovered since trial. A court will not reopen a case or vacate a judgment unless the evidence has in fact been discovered. Merely suggesting that evidence might exist is not enough.
- It could not have been discovered before now. Even if evidence is substantial and does in fact exist, a motion for new trial will not be granted if the court finds that the evidence could have been discovered before in time for use at the first trial. If the evidence could have been uncovered through the exercise of due diligence, your motion will be denied.
- It is material to the issue of liability/guilt or innocence. Evidence that supports a motion for new trial is evidence that cuts to the heart of the matter: whether the defendant is liable for your injuries or not. So, for example, evidence that a driver was traveling 85 miles per hour instead of 75 miles per hour in a 50 mile per hour zone may not qualify as the type of evidence that would support a motion for new trial.
- It is not merely cumulative or impeaching. Cumulative evidence is evidence that establishes something that has already been established through other evidence or testimony. Impeaching evidence is evidence that suggests a witness is not to be believed because of prior dishonest acts or inconsistent statements (a witness says at trial the defendant was going 75 miles per hour when she testified earlier under oath that the car was going 85 miles per hour, for instance).
Contact David R. Price, Jr. for Assistance
In most cases, you will not be able to reopen a case and set aside a verdict, even where there is new evidence. Therefore, when you have been injured in a personal injury accident, it is important that your case is thoroughly researched and investigated before proceeding to trial. David R. Price, Jr. is an experienced and aggressive Greenville personal injury lawyer who strives to carefully analyze and uncover all of the relevant evidence in your case. Contact his office today to discuss your case by calling (864) 271-2636 or contacting him online.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.