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Adjudicative Facts

court witness dispute parties

Factual matters concerning the parties to an administrative proceeding as contrasted with legislative facts, which are general and usually do not touch individual questions of particular parties to a proceeding. Facts that concern a person's motives and intent, as contrasted with general policy issues. Those facts that must be found BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT by the trier of fact before there can be a conviction.

Adjudicative facts, of which a trial court may take notice if a fact is not subject to reasonable dispute, are those to which law is applied in the process of adjudication; they are facts that, in a jury case, normally go to the jury.

The role of a U.S. court is to resolve the dispute that has brought the parties before it. Determining what happened to whom, when and how it happened, and what the result is or will be, is part of the adjudicative process by which the court reaches that resolution. These determinations establish the adjudicative facts of the dispute.

Adjudicative facts differ from ordinary facts in that they are considered facts only if the court recognizes and accepts them. For example, a witness may testify that she saw the defendant's car parked at a specific place at a specific time. These are the facts as she recalls them. However, the court may reject her account and instead accept another witness's testimony that the defendant was driving that same car in another part of town at the same time. The second witness's account will therefore become part of the adjudicative facts of the case, and the first witness's recollection will be considered immaterial.

Adjudicative facts are specific and unique to a particular controversy. For this reason, the fact determination in one case is not controlling in other similar cases, even if all the cases arose from the same incident. Adjudicative facts differ from legislative facts, which are general and can be applied to any party in a similar situation. For example, the facts used by a court to determine the legality of a tax increase levied against a single taxpayer would be adjudicative facts particular to that taxpayer's case. By contrast, the facts used to determine the legality of a general tax increase levied against all the residents of a city would be legislative in nature. Because facts can be perceived and interpreted differently by different people, the skillful lawyer is careful about what facts to present and how to present them at trial.

Adjudicative facts re-create the course of events that led to the dispute. They may also predict what will happen as a result. For example, where one party is suing another for personal injury, adjudicative facts will determine what happened, who was at fault, and what redress is appropriate for pain and suffering. Adjudicative facts will further establish what lasting consequences, such as lost future wages, the plaintiff is likely to suffer and what compensation is fitting.

Adjudicative facts found by the court are final and will not be reviewed on appeal except in cases where it can be shown that the findings were made on insubstantial evidence or were clearly erroneous.

FURTHER READINGS

Carp, Robert A., and Ronald Stidham. 1990. The Judicial Process in America. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press.

Fraher, Richard M. 1987. "Adjudicative Facts, Non-evidence Facts, and Permissible Jury Background Information." Indiana Law Journal 62 (spring).

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