Prejudice In The Legal System – A Misunderstood Concept
The election of an African-American President was something few people thought would happen in their lifetimes. The reason? Prejudice against people of color. Alas, there is an open prejudice in the legal system as well. The type of prejudice we are talking about in this article, however, is not an offensive version and is often misunderstood.
The legal system, particularly the civil system, is very forgiving in many ways. If a party makes a mistake, the system will often have a built in allowance for them to try again. This can be done through things such as amendments to pleadings and so on. The term prejudice, as noted in the legal system, is a pillar of this process.
What does the legal procedure concept of prejudice mean? It simply is an indicator that something is final or not. A motion that is granted -with prejudice- is a final ruling on that subject and it shall not be raised again. A motion that is granted -without prejudice- is something the impacted party will usually be allowed to try and fix within a set time period. An example helps show how this work.
I sue you for causing a car accident between the two of us. You file a motion to dismiss my complaint on the grounds that I didn’t serve you with the complaint correctly. I argue that I served the lawsuit at your home address and on your wife. You argue that a separation had occurred a week earlier and you know longer lived at that address. Under the laws of your state, the court grants the motion to dismiss but does so without prejudice. This gives me a certain amount of time to serve the lawsuit on you in a proper manner.
Now consider a second case. I sue you for causing me to drive off the road and crash into a tree. I assert that you did this because you are really an alien being who can control the minds of people. You file a motion to dismiss on the grounds that I am completely out of my mind and haven’t stated a legal cause of action. The judge agrees, recognizes the case is nonsense and grants the dismissal with prejudice. I am not barred from amending my complaint or trying again.
These are obviously two extreme examples. That being said, they do bear out the concept of prejudice as it applies to the legal system.
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