What is an Ultimate Fact?
An ultimate fact is a fact that must be accepted by a jury or court for the plaintiff or defendant to win the case. An ultimate fact is normally reached though any number of evidentiary facts.
Reaching the fact through findings is not just a formality or an old rule. Reaching the fact through evidentiary facts allows the prosecution or defense to keep the other side from presenting other pleadings in an appellate court.
What is the Difference between an Ultimate Fact and a Legal Conclusion?
The line between the fact and a legal conclusion of law is vague but nonetheless important. The fact is reached by logical reasoning and the collection of evidentiary facts, but a legal conclusion is reached through a judgment or the application of fixed laws.
Example of an Ultimate Fact and a Legal Conclusion
Let’s say a defendant is in court because they are trying to modify their obligation to pay child support. During the trial, evidence is presented that the defendant tried to modify their tax returns, used drugs on a regular basis, and stroke the plaintiff on one or more occasions. The jury would reach an ultimate fact that the defendant needs to pay child support because they have a history of drug abuse and domestic violence, and they tried to modify their tax returns to avoid paying child support.
A legal conclusion would be reached if there was strong evidence that the defendant tried to avoid paying child support but no concrete evidence. The evidence might rely on testimony, and the judge is left to make a judgment at the end of the case.
In making a judgment, there is chance of an appeal because there are no concrete evidentiary facts. However, the defendant would have to present evidentiary findings in order to file an appeal.