It is often overlooked that a motion for a new trial can be brought not only after jury or bench trial, but also after certain dispositive motions resulting in a final judgment, including a judgment of dismissal after a demurrer is sustained, a judgment on the pleadings, and summary judgment. Therefore, anytime you have an adverse judgment, consider whether a motion for a new trial is available. First, consider whether grounds for a new trial exist in your case. The grounds are listed in section 657 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and include irregularity in the proceedings; jury misconduct; accident or surprise; newly discovered evidence; excessive or inadequate damages; insufficiency of the evidence or the verdict or decision is against the law; or error in law. The court may also grant a new trial on only part of the issues, such as damages. The unique thing about these motions is that, under certain circumstances, judges have the power to weigh the evidence in determining whether to grant a new trial. Section 657 provides that where the moving party claims that the evidence is insufficient to support the verdict, or the damages are excessive or inadequate, the court must consider the entire record and decide whether the court or jury should have reached a different result. The judge can consider the quantity and quality of the evidence presented, including the credibility of the witnesses at trial. The court of appeal, in contrast, generally cannot weigh the evidence in this manner.

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