How to Oppose Legal Intervention
Under Rule 24 of the federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may join a lawsuit by intervention. There are two forms of intervention: intervention “as of right” and “permissive” intervention. In both situations, a party files a motion with the court and asks to intervene in the lawsuit. To oppose legal intervention, you need to draft a motion in opposition and file it with the court. Then you will probably have to argue the motion before the judge.
Developing Your Arguments
Read the party’s motion.The party seeking intervention will file a motion with the court asking to be added to the case as a party. You should be sent a copy of the motion. Read it closely and attempt to understand the party’s arguments.
- Highlight every statute or case the party cites. You will want to pull them and read them to make sure the intervening party has summarized them accurately.
Read the rule on intervention.Federal Rule 24 covers intervention. There are two forms of intervention: as of right and permissive. If the judge agrees that the party qualifies to intervene “as of right,” then the judge must add the party.
- However, the judge does not have to add the party if it is seeking permissive intervention. Instead, the judge can exercise his or her discretion and either add the party or not.
- You can find the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure online. If you are in state court, then you should read the relevant state rule on intervention.
Analyze whether the party has a right to intervene.According to Rule 24, a party has a right to join the lawsuit in the following situations. Analyze the facts to see if they apply:
- A federal statute gives the party an unconditional right to intervene. Check the motion and see if the party claims that a statute has authorized their intervention.
- The intervening party has an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the lawsuit, and a disposition of the lawsuit would impair or impede their ability to protect their interests unless existing parties can adequately represent them. For example, when white students sued the University of Michigan for using an affirmative action policy, a group of African-American and Hispanic individuals were allowed to intervene as defendants.
Analyze whether the party qualifies for “permissive” intervention.The federal rule also explains the reasons why a party could be joined at the judge’s discretion. A judge may allow a party to join a lawsuit so long as it doesn’t unduly delay or prejudice your rights. Check for the following:
Perform legal research.You should check all of the cases cited in the party’s brief. Pull them up and read them to make sure that the party has interpreted the cases accurately. Also check any statutes cited.
- For example, the intervening party might claim that a federal statute gives them an unconditional right to intervene. Read the statute to make sure that they have interpreted it correctly.
- You also need cases that support your own argument. You can find cases uses Google Scholar or another search engine. Make sure that the cases describe similar factual scenarios as the circumstances of your case. In particular, look for cases where the court denied legal intervention.
- At Google Scholar, click “Case law” and then select the “Select courts.”You should search the courts where your case appears. For example, if you are appearing in federal court in Nebraska, then you can click on “Eighth Circuit” and “Supreme Court.” Search for “Rule 24 intervention” and read skim through the cases.
Meet with an attorney.If you need help with the motion, or if you have any questions, then you should meet with an attorney. A qualified attorney can provide expert advice and could even draft your motion in opposition, if you feel overwhelmed by the process.
- You can find an attorney by contacting your local or state bar association, which should run a referral service.
- Remember that the court clerk cannot provide legal advice.
Drafting a Motion in Opposition
Get your local rules.Your judge might have specific rules for how motions should be presented. You must follow these rules. You can get a copy of the judge’s rules by looking on his or her website or by contacting the judge’s chambers.
Format your motion.The motion should include the caption at the top. The caption includes the court name, the names of the parties, and the civil action number. You should also include the name of the judge. You can title the motion “Opposition to Motion for Intervention.”
- You can find the caption information by looking at the motion to intervene.
Add an introduction.In your introduction, you should briefly summarize why you don’t think the intervening party should be able to join the lawsuit. Be sure to mention that the party fails to satisfy the requirements of the rule on intervention.
Make your argument.In the section titled “Argument” you go into greater detail as to why the intervening party doesn’t have a protectable legal interest or a question of law or fact in common with your lawsuit. You should be sure to cite cases from the Supreme court or the Circuit Court where you are appearing.
Insert a conclusion.Under the heading “Conclusion,” you can briefly conclude your motion by requesting that the court deny the motion to intervene. Sample language could read:
- “For all of the foregoing reasons, movants have failed to meet their burden of proving entitlement to intervention as a matter of right under Rule 24(a) or permissive intervention under Rule 24(b). Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court deny movant’s motion.”
Include your signature.After the conclusion, you should insert the date and your signature block. Include your full name and address, as well as your phone number and email address.
Attach a certificate of service.You can append a “certificate of service” on a separate page attached to the motion. In the certificate, you state that you served a copy of the motion on the intervening party and state the method used.
- For example, a standard certificate of service could read: “I certify that I have served a copy of this Motion in Opposition to Intervention on [insert date] by [insert method of service, such as hand delivery, U.S. Mail, or certified mail, return receipt requested] on the following: [insert names of attorneys and any party that appears pro se).” Then insert your signature and your name, address, and telephone number.
Draft a proposed order.Many federal courts want you to draft the order, which the judge will sign if you win the motion. Accordingly, you should submit a proposed order with your motion. Your local rules might provide detail about how to draft the order. Generally, you should do the following:
- Use a separate sheet of paper. Insert the caption information, just as you did for the motion. Beneath the caption, insert the title: “Order Denying Movant [insert movant’s name] Motion to Intervene.” You can’t simply title it “Order” since that doesn’t clarify what the order applies to.
- Identify the date of the hearing. For example, “On [insert date], the Court conducted a hearing on [name of movant] Motion to Intervene...”
- State that the judge denied the motion. “For the reasons stated orally and recorded in open court that shall constitute the decision of the court, the motion is denied.”
File the motion.Make multiple copies of your motion. You can file the original in the same manner that you have filed other documents in the case. In some federal courts, this means you will file electronically. If you are representing yourself without a lawyer, then you might file a paper copy with the court.
- Be sure to send a copy of your motion to both the intervening party and to the other party in your case. Keep a copy for your records.
Attending a Hearing
Note the date of the hearing.The court should have scheduled the hearing date when the intervening party filed its motion. The hearing date should have been written on a Notice of Motion that you received.
Prepare for the hearing.You want to be prepared. The judge could ask you a question about anything you have written in your motion or anything the intervening party has written in their motion. Accordingly, you should read both from cover to cover, several times.
- Also read the cases cited in the motions. If you are pressed for time, then read the major cases.
Outline the points you want to make.You want to briefly summarize your argument for the judge. Then you should point out what is wrong with the intervening party’s motion.
Speak confidently.You will speak after the intervening party. Be sure to speak as clearly as possible and refer to the judge as “Your Honor.”Try to speak in a natural, comfortable style, so practice if possible ahead of time.
- If the judge asks a question, then listen to the whole question without interrupting. Always answer truthfully and admit if you don’t know the answer.
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