Summary judgment is one of the most powerful tools in procedural legal process. The concept may sound rather foreign, but it is straightforward. A court is authorized to grant a “summary judgment” when the party bringing the case fails to alleged a genuine issue of a material fact.
In general, it means a person bringing a lawsuit must state facts that are “material” to the legal issue and that the other party would dispute.
The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) has proposed giving its hearing judges the authority to grant summary judgment motions, which for many federal workers could mean the end of their MSPB appeal before it begins.
Here’s the problem. You may have suffered an improper adverse job action and deserve to have your case heard by the MSPB, but if you are not represented by an attorney and do not understand how properly articulate what occurred in a manner that raises a genuine issue of material fact, the judge could dismiss your appeal.
While the judges are in some way supposed to help extract from individuals these material facts, if you appear pro se (without an attorney), such assistance may vary greatly from judge to judge and if you are in front of an unhelpful judge, you could be out of luck.
Given they, like all other elements of the government, are under constant scrutiny to “do more with less” it may be beneficial for the judges to move as many cases through their docket as possible, and summary judgment is a powerful tool to improve their productivity at the expense of confused federal employees.
Source: MSPBWatch.org,Summary Judgment at MSPB: A Bad Idea? Or a Terrible Idea? November 8, 2013