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An omnibus motion is a type of legal motion in which multiple requests are bundled. Legal motions are an important part of legal procedure in most courts, allowing issues to be brought into the court in a systematic fashion. A motion can be introduced at any point during a trial, and the person who introduces it is known as a movant. A motion often includes a request, such as one asking for a decision in a case, one to request that the case be dropped, or one forcing the opposing party to supply evidence or information to the movant.
In an omnibus motion, the movant includes several requests. By bundling them together, time is saved both for the court and the movant, and it is also hoped that, if most of the requests are reasonable, all of the requests will be granted, even some of the controversial ones. Typically, such motions are used as a tool at the beginning of a trial, in the form of an omnibus pretrial motion. Both sides may choose to file one, and some of the motions included in it may be formalities.
Common inclusions in such a motion include a request for continuance, which will delay the legal proceeding in question, along with requests for dismissal, asking that the case be thrown out of court altogether due to lack of evidence or some other issue. It may also ask for a psychiatric evaluation of the defendant, request a pretrial conference, lobby for a change of venue, or be used to suppress evidence by one side or the other. Depending on the motion, a brief explanation for the request may be included.
A judge decides whether or not to grant the requests in an omnibus motion. He may choose to reject part of the motion, or allow the entire motion to go through as is. Defense lawyers often use the motion as a delaying tactic, and the prosecution may do the same if it is still gathering evidence. The desire for speedy and accurate trials will eventually conflict with this practice, however, and a judge may indicate his or her desire to move forward despite requests for continuance or other delaying techniques.
The term “omnibus motion” is also sometimes used in the context of agendas for meetings. Typically, items that are not controversial will be bundled together into a group of items known as a consent motion. It is assumed that all of the items in the consent motion will be approved, and voting on them simultaneously will save time.