The term seriatim can be literally translated from Latin to mean “one after another,” like in a series. For example, seriatim can be used to refer to the manner in which certain issues or facts are discussed. This means that the facts or issues are discussed individually and in order, taking one fact or issue into account at a time. To explore this concept, consider the following seriatim definition.
Definition of Seriatim
- A way of handling or discussing things “one after another,” or one at a time in succession.
1670-1680 Medieval Latin seriātim
When something is considered “ad seriatim,” this means that a process follows one after the other. Typically, a plaintiff will file a motion, then the defendant will serve a reply ad seriatim. The defendant’s reply directly follows the plaintiff’s initial motion, ergo the reply is the second leg of the series. In certain cases, the plaintiff will get to reply to the defendant’s reply – this is called a “sur-reply” – which would make up the third leg of the series. Else, the third step in the ad seriatim process would be for the court to make a decision based upon the motion and the reply that have been brought before it.
To consider seriatim is to consider a motion paragraph by paragraph. When a judge implements consider seriatim, this means that he is considering the separate parts of a longer motion piece by piece. He will review a series of paragraphs or articles section by section, and he is able to do so because those sections are part of the same series. He does not, however, rule on each part separately. Once all of the parts have been weighed, the entire motion is then decided upon as a whole. Typically, consider seriatim is used as a method of handling lengthier motions, or amendments that are made up of several sections.
A seriatim opinion is one that is delivered by a court consisting of multiple judges. For example, seriatim opinions are decisions wherein each judge writes his or her own opinion, as opposed to one judge writing on behalf of all of the judges that make up that court. A seriatim opinion is relied upon when a case does not conclude with a majority opinion.
History of Seriatim Opinion
The practice of judicial opinions being given in seriatim was discontinued from 1801 to 1835, when the Supreme Court was under Chief Justice John Marshall. However, it resurfaced in 2009, when the section of the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that deals with pretrial procedure – specifically, Title III, Rule 15(a)(1) – was amended. This amendment provided that a pleader must carefully and quickly weigh his options insofar as amending his response to the arguments that have been raised in a motion.
Further, the pleader is to hasten the process of determining the issues that might otherwise be raised seriatim. Specifically, in federal court matters, the pleader has 21 days from the date of service of a motion to make any amendments he must make. After that, he forfeits any chance he has to make any changes he may deem necessary.
Seriatim Example in Motion for Dismissal
An example of seriatim can be found in the matter of People v. Stanley, a case brought before the District Court of Suffolk County, New York in 2015. Here, Jermaine Stanley was brought before the court on charges of driving while intoxicated, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and leaving the scene of an accident consisting of property damage. Stanley moved for omnibus relief from the court, and the court noted in its decision that it would address the defendant’s demands ad seriatim. The more significant of Stanley’s demands are outlined below.
First, Stanley moved to dismiss the charge of unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. The court granted the dismissal, holding that the factual allegations against Stanley that had accused him of having knowledge of his license being suspended were nothing more than hearsay and should be thrown out.
Second, Stanley moved to have the charge of leaving a scene consisting of property damage dropped, which the court also granted. The court pointed to the supporting deposition on the complainant police officer, which mentioned nothing about property damage, nor did it mention that Stanley was aware of damaging any property. The court concluded that this charge was brought against Stanley as the result of a “simplified traffic” report, and therefore found the statement to be insufficient in support of the charge.
Third, Stanley moved for the results of his breathalyzer test to be suppressed, claiming that the Intoxilyzer 9000 that was used to take the test was not approved for usage in the state of New York. The Court granted this request to the extent of setting the matter down for a hearing to be decided after hearing more details later on.
Fourth, Stanley moved to have evidence of his identification precluded on the basis that he was never notified that the prosecution had plans to produce this evidence to the court. The court denied this request, holding that the situation at issue did not require the kind of notice that Stanley had claimed to be deprived of. Further, the court held that the case law Stanley relied upon to make his case did not effectively support his argument, as it contained “specific reference to a ‘police identification procedure’; namely, a ‘show-up.'”
Fifth, the Court granted, in part, that the prosecution provide Stanley with discovery documentation that he had requested. However, the Court limited the documents to be produced to a handful of what Stanley had requested, and to the extent that such documentation existed in the prosecution’s possession.
Related Legal Terms and Issues
- Defendant – A party against whom a lawsuit has been filed in civil court, or who has been accused of, or charged with, a crime or offense.
- Discovery – The pre-trial efforts of each party to obtain information and evidence.
- Omnibus Motion – A type of motion wherein multiple requests are bundled together for the Court’s consideration.
- Plaintiff – A person who brings a legal action against another person or entity, such as in a civil lawsuit, or criminal proceedings.