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Understanding the Concept and Rules of Summary Judgment.

by John Rasmussen

Please read a disclaimer for the statements I make on this website accusing judges, politicians and activists of criminal actions.



The Concept behind Summary Judgment:

         Under common law, a case is decided by establishing the facts, and then applying the law. The application of the law is the responsibility of the judge. Disputed facts are resolved by trial, and are the responsibility of the jury. Material facts are the facts that control the outcome of the case. If there is agreement with the material facts, one of the parties may file a motion for summary judgment. If the motion is granted, the judge takes the undisputed material facts and applies the law to decide the case. Use of summary judgment saves time and cost in our courts.

The Rules of Summary Judgment in Simple Terms:

         Because of the possibility for judicial abuse in summary judgment, there are rules to protect the constitutional rights of the parties. In layman terms, these are the rules:

      There must be no unresolved issues of material fact, and the judge needs only to apply the law in order to resolve the lawsuit.
           As I stated at the top, disputed material facts are resolved by a jury. If there are no questions of fact, the only issue is the application of the law. Since application of the law is the responsibility of the judge in a lawsuit, there is no need for a jury when the facts are in agreement. This rule is explicitly spelled out in the federal and state code cited below.

      Mere conclusory allegations or general denials in the nonmovants' pleadings are insufficient to avoid summary judgment.
           This rule favors the moving party. It requires that the non-moving party show specific evidence that there is disagreement with the material facts in order for summary judgment to be denied. This requirement is also explicitly spelled out in the federal and state rules cited below.

      All facts and inferences are viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
           This rule forces the party who moves for summary judgment to be confident that the material facts, when combined with the law, will decide the case in its favor. Since summary judgment takes away the right of the non-moving party to present its case before a jury, this rule grants a small advantage to the non-moving party, and should eliminate summary judgment in cases where the outcome is not clearly supported by the facts. This rule is spelled out in federal and state opinions, and has been consistently applied over the years. The United States Supreme Court decision, United States v. Diebold, 369 U.S. 654 (1962), is one of the opinions which state this rule.

        On summary judgment, the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts contained in such materials must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.
        [United States v. Diebold, 369 U.S. 654 (1962)]

Abuse of Summary Judgment:

         In our present broken legal system there is great abuse of the use of summary judgment. Since the judge decides if there are issues of material fact, a judge can take complete control of a case by dishonestly declaring there are no issues of material fact. Then, that dishonest judge makes up, or selects, whatever facts (truth) he or she wants. This is exactly what happened to me in federal court. Federal District Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein illegally allowed summary judgment, and then issued a decision, King County v. Rasmussen (2001), which hid the federal tax fraud scheme used to railbank the East Lake Sammamish right-of-way. She could not have guaranteed her bizarre, predetermined, outcome of my lawsuit if she had allowed my constitutional right to establish the material facts before a jury. In the related decisions, King County v. Rasmussen (2002) and Ray v. King County (2004), the judges used the same dishonest tactic to illegally resolve the lawsuits.
        My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions in this webpage are a First Amendment expression of MY OPINION.



The Federal Rules of Summary Judgment:

         In federal court, the rules of summary judgment are codified under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: (with my emphasis)

      Rule 56. Summary Judgment

      (a) For Claimant.

      A party seeking to recover upon a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim or to obtain a declaratory judgment may, at any time after the expiration of 20 days from the commencement of the action or after service of a motion for summary judgment by the adverse party, move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in the party's favor upon all or any part thereof.

      (b) For Defending Party.

      A party against whom a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim is asserted or a declaratory judgment is sought may, at any time, move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in the party's favor as to all or any part thereof.

      (c) Motion and Proceedings Thereon.

      The motion shall be served at least 10 days before the time fixed for the hearing. The adverse party prior to the day of hearing may serve opposing affidavits. The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A summary judgment, interlocutory in character, may be rendered on the issue of liability alone although there is a genuine issue as to the amount of damages.

      (d) Case Not Fully Adjudicated on Motion.

      If on motion under this rule judgment is not rendered upon the whole case or for all the relief asked and a trial is necessary, the court at the hearing of the motion, by examining the pleadings and the evidence before it and by interrogating counsel, shall if practicable ascertain what material facts exist without substantial controversy and what material facts are actually and in good faith controverted. It shall thereupon make an order specifying the facts that appear without substantial controversy, including the extent to which the amount of damages or other relief is not in controversy, and directing such further proceedings in the action as are just. Upon the trial of the action the facts so specified shall be deemed established, and the trial shall be conducted accordingly.

      (e) Form of Affidavits; Further Testimony; Defense Required.

      Supporting and opposing affidavits shall be made on personal knowledge, shall set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and shall show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated therein. Sworn or certified copies of all papers or parts thereof referred to in an affidavit shall be attached thereto or served therewith. The court may permit affidavits to be supplemented or opposed by depositions, answers to interrogatories, or further affidavits. When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in this rule, an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading, but the adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If the adverse party does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against the adverse party.

      (f) When Affidavits are Unavailable.

      Should it appear from the affidavits of a party opposing the motion that the party cannot for reasons stated present by affidavit facts essential to justify the party's opposition, the court may refuse the application for judgment or may order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or depositions to be taken or discovery to be had or may make such other order as is just.

      (g) Affidavits Made in Bad Faith.

      Should it appear to the satisfaction of the court at any time that any of the affidavits presented pursuant to this rule are presented in bad faith or solely for the purpose of delay, the court shall forthwith order the party employing them to pay to the other party the amount of the reasonable expenses which the filing of the affidavits caused the other party to incur, including reasonable attorney's fees, and any offending party or attorney may be adjudged guilty of contempt.



The Washington State Rules of Summary Judgment:

         In Washington State courts, the rules of summary judgment are codified under Rule 56 of the Superior Court Civil Rules: (with my emphasis)

      RULE 56
      SUMMARY JUDGMENT

           (a) For Claimant. A party seeking to recover upon a claim, counterclaim, or cross claim, or to obtain a declaratory judgment may, after the expiration of the period within which the defendant is required to appear, or after service of a motion for summary judgment by the adverse party, move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in his favor upon all or any part thereof.

           (b) For Defending Party. A party against whom a claim, counterclaim, or cross claim is asserted or a declaratory judgment is sought may move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in his favor as to all or any part thereof.

           (c) Motion and Proceedings. The motion and any supporting affidavits, memoranda of law, or other documentation shall be filed and served not later than 28 calendar days before the hearing. The adverse party may file and serve opposing affidavits, memoranda of law or other documentation not later than 11 calendar days before the hearing. The moving party may file and serve any rebuttal documents not later than 5 calendar days prior to the hearing. If the date for filing either the response or rebuttal falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, then it shall be filed and served not later than the next day nearer the hearing which is neither a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. Summary judgment motions shall be heard more than 14 calendar days before the date set for trial unless leave of court is granted to allow otherwise. Confirmation of the hearing may be required by local rules. The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A summary judgment, interlocutory in character, may be rendered on the issue of liability alone although there is a genuine issue as to the amount of damages.

           (d) Case Not Fully Adjudicated on Motion. If on motion under the rule judgment is not rendered upon the whole case or for all the relief asked and a trial is necessary, the court at the hearing of the motion, by examining the pleadings and the evidence before it and by interrogating counsel, shall if practicable ascertain what material facts exist without substantial controversy and what material facts are actually and in good faith controverted. It shall thereupon make an order specifying the facts that appear without substantial controversy, including the extent to which the amount of damages or other relief is not in controversy, and directing such further proceedings in the action as are just. Upon the trial of the action, the facts so specified shall be deemed established, and the trial shall be conducted accordingly.

           (e) Form of Affidavits; Further Testimony; Defense Required. Supporting and opposing affidavits shall be made on personal knowledge, shall set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and shall show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated therein. Sworn or certified copies of all papers or parts thereof referred to in an affidavit shall be attached thereto or served therewith. The court may permit affidavits to be supplemented or opposed by depositions, answers to interrogatories, or further affidavits. When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in this rule, an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but his response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If he does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against him.

           (f) When Affidavits Are Unavailable. Should it appear from the affidavits of a party opposing the motion that he cannot, for reasons stated, present by affidavit facts essential to justify his opposition, the court may refuse the application for judgment or may order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or depositions to be taken or discovery to be had or may make such other order as is just.

           (g) Affidavits Made in Bad Faith. Should it appear to the satisfaction of the court at any time that any of the affidavits presented pursuant to this rule are presented in bad faith or solely for the purpose of delay, the court shall forthwith order the party employing them to pay to the other party the amount of the reasonable expenses which the filing of the affidavits caused him to incur, including reasonable attorney fees, and any offending party or attorney may be adjudged guilty of contempt.

           (h) Form of Order. The order granting or denying the motion for summary judgment shall designate the documents and other evidence called to the attention of the trial court before the order on summary judgment was entered.



The Washington State Law Requires Disputed Facts to be Resolved by a Jury:

         In legitimate courts of law, it is elementary that questions of fact are resolved by a jury, and that questions of law are the responsibility of the court (the judge). In Washington State, these elementary principles are spelled out in the Civil Procedures of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). At trial, the importance of disputed material facts being resolved by a jury is codified as RCW 4.44.090. The responsibility of the court for questions of law is codified as RCW 4.44.080. Issues of fact relating to real property are required to be resolved by a jury, per RCW 4.40.060. Each is displayed below. (with my emphasis)

      RCW 4.44.080 - Questions of law to be decided by court.

      All questions of law including the admissibility of testimony, the facts preliminary to such admission, and the construction of statutes and other writings, and other rules of evidence, are to be decided by the court, and all discussions of law addressed to it.

      RCW 4.44.090 - Questions of fact for jury.

      All questions of fact other than those mentioned in RCW 4.44.080, shall be decided by the jury, and all evidence thereon addressed to them.

      RCW 4.40.060 - Trial of certain issues of fact Jury.

      An issue of fact, in an action for the recovery of money only, or of specific real or personal property shall be tried by a jury, unless a jury is waived, as provided by law, or a reference ordered, as provided by statute relating to referees.

The Washington State Constitution Forbids the Judge from Interfering with the Jury's Determination of Facts:

         The importance of a jury resolving issues of fact is spelled out in the Washington State Constitution, as shown below.

      Washington State Constitution

      Article IV - The Judiciary

      Section 16 - Charging Juries.

      Judges shall not charge juries with respect to matters of fact, nor comment thereon, but shall declare the law.



Federal and State Judges Violated the Rules of Summary Judgment when they Construed the Hilchkanum Right-of-Way Deed.

         The leadership of King County participated in the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme with the confidence that they could manipulate the legal system to cover-up their crime. Federal and State judges cooperated by illegally granting themselves the right to decide the Hilchkanum lawsuits using summary judgment. There were many critical issues of material fact which these dishonest judges decided in violation of the Constitution and the laws. Below, are hyperlinks which will take the reader to the position in each annotated opinion in which these judges state their authority to apply summary judgment, and I identify disputed material facts.
        My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions in this webpage are a First Amendment expression of MY OPINION.

      Federal District Judge Rothstein violated the rules of summary judgment in King County v. Rasmussen (2001).

      The Ninth Circuit Appeals Panel violated the rules of summary judgment in King County v. Rasmussen (2002).

      The Washington State Appeals Panel violated the rules of summary judgment in Ray v. King County (2004).