Question of Law

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Question of Law

An issue that is within the province of the judge, as opposed to the jury, because it involves the application or interpretation of legal principles or statutes.

At any stage in a proceeding, before or during trial, a judge may have to determine whether to let a jury decide a particular issue. In making this determination, the judge considers whether the issue is a question of law or a question of Fact. If the question is one of fact, it should be decided by the jury at trial. If the question is one of law, the judge may decide it without affording the parties the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses to the jury.

A question of law involves the interpretation of principles that are potentially applicable to other cases. In contrast, a question of fact requires an interpretation of circumstances surrounding the case at hand. Resolving questions of fact is the chief function of the jury. Resolving questions of law is a chief function of the judge.

If the pleadings and initial evidence in a case show that there are no factual disputes between the parties, a court may grant Summary Judgment to a party. Summary judgment is a final judgment in the case made by the court before trial. A court may grant summary judgment in a case that contains no factual disputes because such a case presents only a question, or questions, of law, so the fact-finding function of the jury is not needed.

On appeal, the trial court's ruling on a question of law generally receives closer scrutiny than a jury's findings of fact. Being present at the trial, the fact finder is in a better position than the appeals court to evaluate evidence and testimony.

An issue may be characterized on appeal as a mixed question of law and fact. A mixed question occurs when the facts surrounding the case are admitted and the rule of the applicable law is undisputed; the issue then is whether the Rule of Law was correctly applied to the established facts. In a criminal case, for example, assume that a trial court, over the objection of the defendant, allows the prosecution to present evidence that the defendant was identified as the perpetrator. If the defendant is found guilty and challenges the identification procedure on appeal, the question is one of both law and fact. The appeals court must decide whether the trial court correctly applied the law on due process in identification procedures to the particular identification procedure used in the case. In such a case, the appeals court will scrutinize both the facts and the trial judge's rulings on questions of law.

Further readings

Thomas, Janet Shiffler. 1984. "Likelihood of Confusion Under the Lanham Act: A Question of Fact, A Question of Law, or Both?" Kentucky Law Journal 73.

question of law

n. an issue arising in a lawsuit or criminal prosecution which only relates to determination of what the law is, how it is applied to the facts in the case, and other purely legal points in contention. All "questions of law" arising before, during, and sometimes after a trial are to be determined solely by the judge and not by the jury. "Questions of law" are differentiated from "questions of fact," which are decided by the jury and only by the judge if there is no jury. (See: question of fact, trier of fact, judge)

References in periodicals archive ?
Westmoreland, distinguished Anderson as applying solely to findings of facts and conclusions of law, not to entire opinions.
* Mixed Conclusions of Law and Findings of Fact--Certain legal issues present both a question of law and a question of fact.
Thus, the ruling that Moushigian now challenges is not a ruling on a request for relief from a stay but, rather, the ruling on his request for 'deeming relief.' Nothing in Mazzeo suggests that a ruling on such a purely straightforward procedural issue must be accompanied by findings of fact and conclusions of law under Rule 52(a).
At the end of the trial, the Board will make findings of fact and conclusions of law. If the Board finds that there is a violation of the Nurse Practice Act, they will then decide the discipline.
(120.) Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, supra note 114, at *2.
In civil cases, for example, there are different standards for jury trials and bench trials, findings of fact and conclusions of law, dismissal on the pleadings and the granting of summary judgment.
In any event, case law binds the Superior Court by an arbitrator's finding of fact and conclusions of law "even when they are erroneous, inconsistent or unsupported by the arbitration record," Mr.
The court shall only authorize the sterilization if "by clear and convincing evidence and based on written findings of fact and conclusions of law" the court finds that the ward lacks decisional capacity, the ward is capable of procreation, the benefits of sterilization are greater than the harms, less intrusive alternatives are inadequate, and sterilization is in the best interest of the ward.
But on June 2, the 3rd Circuit remanded the case, saying the district court had failed to set forth sufficient findings of fact or conclusions of law to support the granting of a preliminary injunction.
After a combined hearing on the motion for summary judgment and the issue of damages, the trial court issued its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and judgment.
The Board makes the final findings of fact, conclusions of law, and determination whether to issue the requested order.
For cases other than "small tax cases," the STJ then reports to the Tax Court his or her findings of fact and conclusions of law and, in some cases, recommendations.