Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52
Rule 52. Findings and Conclusions by the Court; Judgment on Partial Findings
(a) FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS.
(1) In General. In an action tried on the facts without a jury or with an advisory jury, the court must find the facts specially and state its conclusions of law separately. The findings and conclusions may be stated on the record after the close of the evidence or may appear in an opinion or a memorandum of decision filed by the court. Judgment must be entered under Rule 58.
(2) For an Interlocutory Injunction. In granting or refusing an interlocutory injunction, the court must similarly state the findings and conclusions that support its action.
(4) Effect of a Master’s Findings. A master’s findings, to the extent adopted by the court, must be considered the court’s findings.
(5) Questioning the Evidentiary Support. A party may later question the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the findings, whether or not the party requested findings, objected to them, moved to amend them, or moved for partial findings.
(6) Setting Aside the Findings. Findings of fact, whether based on oral or other evidence, must not be set aside unless clearly erroneous, and the reviewing court must give due regard to the trial court’s opportunity to judge the witnesses’ credibility.
(b) AMENDED OR ADDITIONAL FINDINGS. On a party’s motion filed no later than 28 days after the entry of judgment, the court may amend its findings—or make additional findings—and may amend the judgment accordingly. The motion may accompany a motion for a new trial under Rule 59.
(c) JUDGMENT ON PARTIAL FINDINGS. If a party has been fully heard on an issue during a nonjury trial and the court finds against the party on that issue, the court may enter judgment against the party on a claim or defense that, under the controlling law, can be maintained or defeated only with a favorable finding on that issue. The court may, however, decline to render any judgment until the close of the evidence. A judgment on partial findings must be supported by findings of fact and conclusions of law as required by Rule 52(a).
- A trial without a jury is called a “bench trial.” The judge acts as a jury deciding liability.
- One important difference between a bench trial and a jury trial is that juries can deliver general verdicts: deciding liability without any explanation. Bench trials are different because Rule 52 requires judges to state their findings of facts and conclusions of law.
- Also, note that when a judge makes finding of fact appellate courts will generally defer to the judge and only reverse if there is “clear error.”