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Judgment

How soon will I get a judgment?

What types of judgments are there?

What happens if I could not show up at the trial?

What can I do if I lose a case because I could not show up at the trial?

Is there anything I can do if my motion to vacate judgment was denied?

I won but the defendant's name is spelled wrong; how can I correct it?

We both showed up at the trial and I lost; what can I do now?

What happens to my appeal after I file it?

Can I lose more on appeal than the original judgment amount?

Can I add another party or ask for more money when the defendant files an appeal?

Can an attorney represent me on an appeal?

Is there anything else I can do after losing on appeal?

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How soon will I get a judgment?

While a judicial officer has up to 90 days to enter a judgment, you will normally get a decision in two or three weeks. Some judicial officers may even enter a judgment on the day of the trial. If you do not hear from the court in a couple of weeks, call the court clerk's office at (559) 582-1010 x 3074 to inquire.

What types of judgments are there?

A judgment can be a straightforward money award. It can also contain two alternatives, as in ordering the losing party to either do something or pay the judgment amount (alternative equitable relief judgment). There can also be a judgment that says that if the losing party does something the judgment will not be entered against him/her, but if hw/she does not do what he/she is ordered, then the judgment will automatically be entered (conditional judgment). Another kind of a judgment is where the parties agree what the judgment should be and how it should be carried out (stipulated judgment).

What happens if I could not show up at the trial?

If you were a plaintiff, then the court could reschedule the trial, dismiss your case with prejudice (you cannot sue the same defendant again for the same dispute), dismiss without prejudice (you can sue again), or enter a default judgment against you.

If you were a defendant, the judicial officer will hear the case in your absence provided the service of process was proper. The plaintiff will still have to make his case but his evidence will not be disputed in your absence so there will normally be a judgment against you.

What can I do if I lose a case because I could not show up at the trial?

Within 30 days from the date the court mailed you the judicial officer's decision, the Notice of Entry of Judgment, you can file a Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration (Form SC-135). You will be assigned a date and time for a hearing when you will have to convince a judicial officer you had a good excuse for not showing up and that the default judgment should be set aside. Any evidence, such as medical records, should be brought to the hearing.

If you were never served with the legal process for the lawsuit, you have 180 days after learning about a judgment against you within which to file the motion.

Lastly, you can pay the judgment, allowed costs and accrued interest.

Is there anything I can do if my motion to vacate judgment was denied?

Only if you were a defendant whose motion to vacate was denied. Within 10 days of the date the court mailed you the judicial officer's decision denying your motion, you must complete a Notice of Appeal (Form SC-140), send a copy to the plaintiff and file it with the court with a fee of $80.

On appeal, a superior court judicial officer will decide only the issue of whether or not the judicial officer hearing your motion to vacate acted properly in denying it. If you lose, then all your options have been exhausted and the default judgment against you is final. If your appeal is granted, then the default judgment is set aside.

Often, when both parties are present at the appeal and you win your appeal, the judicial officer may conduct the original trial on the merits. So, both parties are advised to appear at the appeals hearing prepared to try the case.

I won but the defendant's name is spelled wrong; how can I correct it?

You may file a Request or to Correct or Vacate a Judgment (SC-108)

We both showed up at the trial and I lost; what can I do now?

You have two options. You can either file an appeal if you qualify or file a Request to Correct or Vacate Judgment (Form SC-108).

Within 30 days from the date the court mailed you the Notice of Entry of Judgment, you must fill out a Notice of Appeal (SC-140), send a copy to each party, then submit it to the court clerk's office with a fee of $80. You can only appeal a small claims judgment if you lose a case filed against you. That means only the defendant can file an appeal after losing the plaintiff's case against him, and only the plaintiff can file an appeal after losing the defendant's countersuit against her. When there are multiple plaintiffs and/or defendants, all the parties and claims that have not been dismissed at the time of the appeals filing will be involved in the new trial at the appeal.

Either party may file a Request to Correct or Vacate Judgment (SC-108) to correct a clerical error in the judgment or to vacate a judgment that was based on erroneous legal basis.

What happens to my appeal after I file it?

When you file an appeal, the small claims court sends the case file to the civil division of the superior court. The court then sends the notice of the appeals filing to each party. The court will then schedule a date and notify each party.

The appeal is an entirely new trial and the superior court judicial officer who hears the case will conduct the hearing all over again. All the parties will then put on their presentation as they had done in the original small claims trial.

Can I lose more on appeal than the original judgment amount?

If the small claims judicial officer awarded the plaintiff less money than he/she asked for in his/her claim against you, the superior court judge on your appeal may award him/her a larger judgment amount, up to the amount he/she sued for in her original claim. Also, the superior court judicial officer hearing the appeal may award reasonable attorney's fees and costs actually incurred by the plaintiff, up to $150 each, against a defendant who loses on an appeal. If the judicial officer finds that the losing defendant filed the appeal without good faith belief in its merits but only to delay payment or hurt the plaintiff, then he/she may award attorney's fees up to $1,000 and costs up to $1,000.

Can I add another party or ask for more money when the defendant files an appeal?

No, the case is limited to the original claim you filed. Neither party can amend the claim to add a new party or change the amount sued for. However, because the superior court judicial officer considers the case anew, he/she can award you more than what you received from the small claims judicial officer if you had been awarded less than what you had originally asked.

Can an attorney represent me on an appeal?

Yes, an attorney may represent a party on appeal. If you choose not to have an attorney represent you, the general rule for self-representation applies on appeal as it does in small claims hearings.

Is there anything else I can do after losing on appeal?

No. The decision from the superior court judicial officer who hears the appeal is final.

 

 
Superior Court of California, Kings County
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