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Demurrer

In common law civil procedure, a demurrer is a pleading by the defendant that contests the legal sufficiency of the complaint without admitting or denying the allegations therein. Demurrers are usually filed at the beginning of a case. It is filed before the answer and can be characterized as the defendant’s way of saying “so what?” after reading a plaintiff's complaint.

The complaint implicitly or explicitly asserts or presumes the court has jurisdiction to decide the issue and grant the relief sought. The demurrer challenges the prosecution to prove that jurisdiction, putting the burden of proof on him. Historically, demurrer was considered a common law due process right, to be heard and decided before the defendant was required to plead "not guilty", or make any other pleading in response, without having to admit or deny any of the facts alleged.

A demurrer existed in criminal law procedure, but today is largely obsolete or abolished.

A demurrer is not a challenge to the ultimate merits of a case or claim. When ruling on a demurrer a judge is required by law to assume as true facts alleged in the complaint. Subject to very few exceptions, the Judge cannot rule on a demurrer based on the Judge's perception of a plaintiff's credibility.

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