From what I understand, a summary judgment is granted by a judge if the facts are not in dispute. So what is the threshold for this?

Example: A hits B, and B sues for assault and battery. During the discovery/deposition process, A admits to hitting B, and also admits to having been drunk at the time. The extent of B's injuries is established by medical records. The only unresolved issue is that A disclaims intent (pleading drunkenness), which might make it a criminal, rather than civil, matter.

Can there be a summary judgment, or at least an expedited or abbreviated trial based only on the established facts? In this instance, can there be a civil summary judgment given the agreement of both parties to the facts, if A waives a criminal trial?

  • 1
    Civil matters and criminal matters are not mutually exclusive. Many crimes are simultaneously torts and can be pursued in parallel or in one way and not the other.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 31, 2020 at 21:41

2 Answers 2


In the U.S. From Wikipedia -

"Summary judgment in the United States applies only in civil cases. It does not apply to criminal cases to obtain a pretrial judgment of conviction or acquittal, in part because a criminal defendant has a constitutional right to a jury trial."

So it would not apply in the assault and battery example.

As you say, the state of the facts also come in to summary judgment, not just the law - "

A party seeking summary judgment (or making any other motion) is called the movant (usually, this is defendant); the opposing party is the nonmovant (usually, plaintiff). Per Rule 56(a), issuance of summary judgment can be based only upon the court's finding that, both:

  1. there exists no disputed genuine issue of material fact between the parties requiring a trial to resolve; and

  2. in applying the law to the (undisputed) facts, one party is clearly entitled by law to judgment."


Assault and battery in your example would be a criminal matter, as you guessed.

Every case is different, but a summary judgement is usually granted when the law is not in dispute, not the facts.

The reasoning is, even if you did not deny the facts, you could make other arguments such as to what a judgement should be or whatever other issue could arise.

A summary judgement would normally come into play when the law is not disputable. For example, if the law said you can't sue for X and you tried to do that the other side would get a summary judgement dismissing the matter, because no matter what, you can't bring the suit.

  • 3
    You can also bring a civil lawsuit alleging damages caused by assault and battery seeking tort damages.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 31, 2020 at 21:39
  • OJ Simpson was not guilty of murder but was convicted of the civil wrongful death charge, which has a different standard.
    – Trish
    Oct 1, 2020 at 15:19

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