In a legal proceeding, a material statement of fact is any fact that is germane to the issue under dispute in the case. In contrast is the "immaterial fact," which may be true but has no bearing on anything under discussion. To be called a fact, whether material or immaterial, it must be backed up by evidence. The very nature of a material fact means that, if it were changed, then it would affect the outcome of the case.
The duty of the judge is to keep both sides in the case on point in relation to material fact. The courtroom requires a different standard of definition than what the layperson is accustomed to. By splitting the word "fact" into two separate entities, material and immaterial, the court gives little leeway to plaintiff, defendant or witness attempts to insert trivia or unrelated minutiae into the proceedings. To qualify as a material statement of fact requires that it meet the highest standard of relevance to the legal issue in dispute.
Reading legal briefs, motion filings and discovery and response documents can be the epitome of drudgery, thanks to the legal style of writing that has evolved over the centuries, and concerns itself only with material facts presented in the most straightforward manner possible. But legal writing is not intended to educate or entertain but rather to sway the opinion of a judge or jury to the writer's point of view, based on fact and applicable law.
In the legal world, a fact is something that one side claims is true but the other side can dispute it. A material fact is something that is beyond dispute, such as humans have two eyes. A lawyer can use a material fact to prove or disprove a simple fact and aid in resolving the case. To cast doubt on a fact's material nature, the dispute must be "genuine," which means that a reasonable jury could interpret it in either direction.
The concept of a material fact becomes important when plaintiffs file a motion for summary judgment. That is when plaintiffs ask the judge to rule in their favor based on the material nature of the facts in regard to established precedence or codified law.
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