Matter of Law

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Matter of Law

That which is determined or ascertained through the use of statutes, rules, court decisions, and interpretations of legal principles.

In legal actions the term matter of law is used to define a particular area that is the responsibility of the court. Matter of law is distinguished from matter of fact. All questions concerning the determination of fact are for the jury, though a judge may determine the facts if a jury trial is waived or is not permitted under the law.

The designation of matters of law to the judge and matters of fact to the jury did not develop, however, until the late eighteenth century. Until that time a jury could exercise its judgment over matters of fact and law. Jury instructions, which in modern law are technical and specific about which law to apply, were informal and general. A jury was free to accept the instructions, modify them, or ignore them completely.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, courts had acquired authority over matters of law and confined juries to matters of fact. Commercial lawyers were particularly influential in bringing about this change, as greater judicial control over matters of law helped produce a stable legal system in which business could prosper.

Today courts rule on all matters of law, including pretrial motions, trial objections to the introduction of particular evidence or testimony, proposed jury instructions, and posttrial motions. Their decisions are based on statutes, rules of evidence and procedure, and the body of relevant case law.

When the facts in a civil action are not in dispute, one or both of the parties may request a court to make a Summary Judgment. Summary judgment is purely a matter of law; the court accepts the relevant facts as presented by the party opposing summary judgment and renders a decision based on the applicable legal principles.

A matter of law can be the basis for an appeal, but generally a matter of fact cannot. Though an appeals court can reverse a decision because of a mistaken matter of law, it will not reverse if the mistake did not affect the verdict. This "harmless error" rule developed, in part, from the recognition that during a trial the court often must make hundreds of decisions based on matters of law.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

MATTER OF LAW, pleading. That which goes in avoidance of a declaration or other pleading, on the ground that the law does not authorize them. It does not deny the matter or fact contained in such pleading, but admitting them avoids them. Bac. Ab. Pleas, &c. G 3. Matter of law, is that which is referred to the decision of the court; matter of fact that which is submitted to the jury.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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Here, the conflicting evidence on the adequacy of the warnings provided by Savage Arms prevents this court from ruling that the warnings were sufficient or insufficient as a matter of law. Moreover, the conflicting evidence regarding what Savage Arms knew about the 10ML-II's barrel failures and when it knew it precludes a finding on the issue of wanton disregard as a matter of law.
Whether it is a matter of fact or matter of law becomes important when it comes to appeals before the Federal Circuit.
Here, the plaintiff made a prima facie showing of its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that it sent a disclaimer only 24 days after receiving notice of the underlying incident and, during those 24 days, it diligently investigated the possibility of a disclaimer based on the Darkei Noam defendants' untimely notice.
As I said, I will repeat, this is not a matter of law because theoretically, the law enforcements officers can arrest them anywhere," he said.
(vii) that, as a matter of law, a party is not entitled to absolute or qualified immunity in a civil rights claim arising under federal law;
The court observed that Florida law states that "if a plaintiff serves an offer which is not accepted by the defendant, and if the judgment obtained by the plaintiff is at least 25 percent more than the amount of the offer, the plaintiff shall be awarded reasonable costs and attorney's [sic] fees." The court noted that in the trial court and in the appeal before the court, the defendants opposed the plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees and costs and the award itself, on the grounds that the two remaining proposals for settlement to multiple defendants were invalid and unenforceable as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in part and reversed it in part.
Presbyterian Hosp., 61 N.Y.2d 442, 446 (1984), "while waiver may be inferred from the acceptance of rent in some circumstances, it may not be inferred, and certainly not as a matter of law, to frustrate the reasonable expectations of the parties embodied in a lease when they have the agreed otherwise."
The court reasoned that harm to children in sexual molestation cases is inherent in the very act of sexual assault committed on a child, regardless of the motivation for or nature of such assault, and that the resulting injuries are, as a matter of law, intentional.
At first, he came on too strongly, at one point outright telling a justice "You're wrong" about a matter of law. Justices like direct, quick answers, but maybe not quite that pointed.
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Thus, section 61 uses the word to mean "included as a matter of law."