Generally, the judge's decision will be announced at the end of a small claims trial. The court clerk should give you an order at the conclusion of your case if the judgment is in your favor. However, sometimes the judge will want to take additional time to review the evidence or research the law before entering a final judgment. When this occurs, the parties will receive a copy of the final judgment in the mail.
Neither party can appeal the decision of the judge or hearing officer in a small claims case. However, if either party believes the judgment was entered in error, or if there were good reasons for one of the parties not appearing in court, that party may request the court to vacate or modify the judgment.
Motion to Vacate or Modify Judgment
A motion to vacate or modify judgment form may be obtained from the small claims clerk and filed with the court. You'll need to complete the form and explain the reason why you feel the judgment should be set aside or modified.
If you defaulted, you must show a blameless defense for your failure to appear. You may attach any supporting documents.
After you complete the form, you'll need to sign it and return the form to the court clerk for filing. At the time of filing, you'll need to pay the appropriate filing fee.
The other party must be served with a copy of the motion. If the time to challenge the judgment hasn't expired, the other party may be served by first class mail. If the time to challenge the judgment has expired, the other party generally must be served by a licensed process server.
Proof of service must be filed with the court. Your process server is required to file an affidavit with the court stating the date, the time, where and upon who service was made and to provide you with a copy of the affidavit.
Questions for Your Attorney
- I did not receive a final judgment at my trial nor in the mail and it's been 30 days since my small claims trial. What should I do?
- What happens if the judge sets aside the judgment?
- How long does it generally take to get the judge's decision by mail if the judgment wasn't announced at the trial?