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Receiving the Judge’s Decision

NOTICE OF ENTRY OF JUDGMENT:

The Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130)  is a court form that states the judge’s decision.

This form also tells you about your rights and lists the date the form was mailed to you. This date is very important. You have only 30 days from this date to file a motion to vacate the judgment or appeal the judge’s decision. Exception: If you are the defendant and you did not go to court because you were not properly served with the Plaintiff’s Claim, you have 180 days to file a motion to vacate the judgment.

If the judge ruled on the case at the time of your trial, you should receive the Notice of Entry of Judgment in the mail within 2 weeks after your trial. If the judge took the case "under submission" it can take several weeks to receive the Notice. You can view the status of your case online. If you do not receive a Notice, contact the clerk at the court where your trial was held.

STAY OF ENFORCEMENT OF JUDGMENT:

The plaintiff cannot enforce the judgment for 30 days from the date the Notice of Entry of Judgment was mailed by the clerk to the parties. During those 30 days, the defendant can:

  • File an Appeal if they appeared at the trial
  • File a Motion to Vacate the Judgment if they did not appear at the trial
  • Pay the judgment

This section will explain the procedure to file an Appeal or Motion to Vacate the Judgment. If an Appeal or Motion is not filed in 30 days, it will be final. If the defendant has not paid, the plaintiff can start proceedings to enforce the judgment.


What to Do If You Did Not Go to Court - Defendant

DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO VACATE THE JUDGMENT:

If you are the defendant and you did not go to court, you can ask the court to "vacate" (cancel) the judgment if the court ordered a judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

Time Limit:

You have 30 days to file your motion from the date the clerk mails you the Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC -130) . Exception: If you were not properly served with the Plaintiff’s Claim, you have 180 days to file.

Form and Filing Fees:

Use the form called Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration (SC -135)  to say why you did not go to court or why you were not properly served. File your documents at the court where the case was filed.

You have to pay a filing fee. If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you may apply to the court to have the fees waived.

Stay of Enforcement of Judgment:

The plaintiff cannot enforce the judgment until the Motion is heard. This means that you do not have to pay the judgment while the Motion is pending.

Hearing:

The clerk will schedule a hearing for your Motion and mail a copy to the parties. At the hearing, the judge will decide if you had "good cause" for not going to the hearing. The plaintiff can go to court to oppose your Motion.

Ruling:

If the judge decides you had good cause, the judgment will be canceled and you will get a new trial. If all of the parties are present, you may have the trial right away, therefore you should also bring your evidence and witnesses. Or, the judge may schedule another date for the trial if the plaintiff is not present.

If the judge decides you did not have "good cause" for not going to the hearing, he or she will deny your motion. If this happens, you have the right to appeal this decision (see next section).

DEFENDANT’S APPEAL OF THE DENIAL OF THE MOTION TO VACATE JUDGMENT:

If you are the defendant and you did not go to court, you can ask the court to "vacate" (cancel) the judgment if the court ordered a judgment in favor of the plaintiff. (see above). If your motion is denied, you have the right to appeal this decision.

Time Limit:

You have 10 days to appeal the decision from the date the clerk mailed the notice of the court’s decision.

Form and Filing Fees:

Use the form called Notice of Filing Notice of Appeal (SC-140)  to appeal the denial of your Motion. If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you may apply to the court to have the fees waived. File your documents at the court where the case was filed.

Stay of Enforcement of Judgment:

The plaintiff cannot enforce the judgment until the appeal is heard. This means that you do not have to pay the judgment while the appeal is pending.

Hearing:

You will get a notice of your hearing date for your appeal in the mail.

At your hearing, the judge will decide if your Motion should have been granted. The plaintiff can go to the hearing to oppose the appeal.

Ruling:

If the judge decides that your Motion should have been granted he or she will cancel the judgment and you will get a new trial. The trial can happen right away if all of the parties are present or it may be rescheduled. You should bring all of your evidence and witnesses in case the trial takes place immediately.

If the appeal judge agrees with the original judge that your Motion was properly denied, your appeal will be denied. This decision is final. However, if the appeal judge grants your Motion and hears the trial and you are dissatisfied with the appeal judge’s decision, you may appeal the ruling (See below "Appealing the Judge’s Decision").


What to Do If You Did Not Go to Court - Plaintiff

PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO VACATE THE JUDGMENT:

If you are the plaintiff and you did not go to court, you can ask the court to "vacate" (cancel) the judgment if the court ordered a judgment in favor of the defendant.

Time Limit:

You have 30 days to file a Motion after the date the clerk mailed you the Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130) .

Form and Filing Fees:

Use the form called Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration (SC -135)  to say why you did not go to the hearing.

You have to pay a filing fee. If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you may apply to the court to have the fees waived. File your documents at the court where the case was filed.

Hearing:

The clerk will schedule a hearing for your Motion and mail a copy to the parties. At the hearing, the judge will decide if you had "good cause" for not going to your hearing. The defendant can go to court to oppose your motion.

Ruling:

If the judge decides you had good cause, the judgment will be canceled and you will get a new trial. If all of the parties are present, you may have the trial right away, therefore you should also bring your evidence and witnesses. Or, the judge may schedule another date for the trial if the defendant is not present. If the judge decides you did not have "good cause" for not going to the hearing, he or she will deny your motion. You may not appeal this decision. It is final.

JUDGE’S DISMISSAL OF THE CASE:

If the case was dismissed "without prejudice," you may be able to refile your case. If your case was dismissed "with prejudice," you must first file a motion to have the dismissal vacated. You can view your case online or contact the clerk to find out what happened at the trial and how to proceed.


How to Request that the Judgment Be Corrected or Canceled

If you think the judgment is wrong, and you appeared at the trial, you can ask to fix a clerical error or cancel the judgment because it is legally wrong. Either the plaintiff or the defendant can do this. A clerical error is when there is a mistake that the judge did not mean to make, like spelling a plaintiff’s or defendant’s name wrong. A judgment is incorrect or legally wrong if the judge did not apply the law to the evidence in the right way.

NOTE: If you did not appear at the trial, you must first file a Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration (Refer to above "If You Did Not Go To Court").

TIME LIMIT:

The request to correct or vacate the judgment must be filed with the court no later than 30 days after the clerk mailed the Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130)  to the parties. Caution: Filing this form does not extend the deadline to file an appeal.

FORM:

Use the form called Request to Correct or Cancel Judgment and Answer (SC-108)  to point out a clerical error in the judgment or to explain why it is legally wrong. The clerk will mail a copy to the other party. They have at least 10 days to respond to your request.

STAY OF ENFORCEMENT OF JUDGMENT:

The judgment cannot be enforced until the motion is heard or ruled on. This means that the defendant does not have to pay the judgment while the motion is pending.

RULING OR HEARING:

After approximately 15 days, the court will mail you its decision or set a hearing date.


How to Answer the Other Party’s Request to Correct or Cancel the Judgment

If you received a copy of a Request to Correct or Cancel Judgment and Answer in the mail, you should carefully read the request of the other party. You can agree, or disagree with the Request by completing 6 through 9 of the second page of the form and filing it with the court. This is called an Answer to the Request to Correct or Cancel Judgment (page 2) (SC-108) . Mail or deliver it to the court right away. Failure to do so may result in the granting of other party’s request to correct or cancel the judgment.

You must also mail a copy of your Answer to the other parties. Insert the date that you mailed the copies under number 8. Do not forget to date and sign the form under number 9.

The court will mail you its decision or set a hearing date.


Appealing the Judge’s Decision

You cannot appeal a decision if you filed the claim. You can only appeal the other party’s claim. That means on the plaintiff’s claim, the defendant may appeal a judgment against them. However, if you are the plaintiff, you may not appeal the judge’s decision, unless the defendant countersued you and a judgment was ordered against you. If your insurance covers the judgment, your insurance company can appeal if the judgment is more than $2,500.

An appeal means that the whole case is heard again. It is a new trial. If you won your claim but lost the other person’s claim, you cannot just appeal the part of the case you lost. If you appeal, the court will hear all the claims again.

Things to think about before you appeal:

  • You or the other party may be represented by an attorney.
  • If you lose, the court can make you pay up to $150 for the other person’s lawyer and up to $150 for their lost earnings and expenses.
  • If the appeal judge decides that you only appealed to harass or delay the other party, or try to get them to drop their claim, the judge can make you pay up to $1,000 of their lawyer’s fees and $1,000 of lost earnings and expenses.
TIME LIMIT:

You only have 30 days to file your appeal after the Notice of Entry of Judgment was mailed to you.

FORM AND FILING FEES:

Use the form called Notice of Filing Notice of Appeal (SC-140) . You have to pay a filing fee. If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you may apply to the court to have the fees waived.

Your appeal will be dismissed if you file it late or do not pay the filing fee.

STAY ON ENFORCEMENT OF JUDGMENT:

The judgment cannot be enforced until your appeal is heard or dismissed. This means that you do not have to pay the judgment while the appeal is pending.

HEARING:

The clerk will mail a notice which tells all the parties when the hearing date is. It will generally be at the same court, but it must be heard by a different judge. At the hearing you and the other party will get to tell your side of the story again. The difference between an appeal and the first trial is that the parties may be represented by an attorney.

An appeal hearing is similar to your original trial so be prepared to tell your side of the case again. Bring all of your witnesses and evidence. If the judge kept your evidence after the original trial, check with the staff in the courtroom on the day of your appeal hearing to make sure that they have your evidence for the judge to review.

RULING:

A judgment on appeal is final. If you are the plaintiff, once the court sends you a notice that you won the appeal, you can go ahead with the collection of your judgment. There is no 30 day waiting period like there is for the original small claims trial. If you are the defendant and you lost the appeal, you should contact the plaintiff and make arrangements to pay the judgment. Failure to do so may result in your assets being seized, wages being garnished, or a lien being placed on your home or other real property.

How to Get More Information

For more information to help you understand appeals and motions to vacate or correct a judgment go to the:


© 2014 Superior Court of Orange County