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CA After Small Claims Court

After your small claims trial is over, you may need to get paid or pay what you owe, you may also want to cancel the judgment, appeal the judgment or correct an error.

Notice of Entry of Judgment

If the judge took your case under submission, which means a decision was not announced in court, you'll receive your copy of the Notice of Entry of Judgment in the mail, after the case is decided. If you don't receive the Notice of Entry of Judgment within two or three weeks, call the small claims court and ask the court clerk to check on the delay.

Getting Paid

Once the hearing is over, try to get the other person to pay you if they owe you money. Once they've paid you, file a form called Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment, which is form EJ-100. You will need to take steps to collect your judgment if the other person doesn't willingly pay you.

Paying What You Owe

If you owe money, pay the court or the other person. If you don't pay, you must mail form SC-133, which is the Judgment Debtor's Statement of Assets form, to the plaintiff within 30 days. After you pay, make sure the plaintiff files form EJ-100. If the plaintiff doesn't file this form, you may ask the court clerk to enter a satisfaction of judgment if you can prove you paid the full amount of the judgment with the interest and costs.

Canceling the Judgment

Whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant you can ask the court to cancel the judgment against you and get a new hearing if you didn't attend the hearing but you had a good reason for not being there. You'll need to file a form called Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration, form SC-135, within 30 days from the date the Notice of Entry of Judgment was mailed.

Appeals

Only the person against whom a claim is made may appeal a small claims court judgment. Thus, only the defendant can appeal a decision on a claim filed by the plaintiff and only a plaintiff can appeal a decision on a claim filed by the defendant. The parties may bring a lawyer to represent them at an appeal.

An appeal involves a rehearing of the dispute before a different judge of the superior court. An appeal is started by filing a Notice of Appeal, form SC-140, with the small claims clerk within 30 days after the judgment is delivered or handed to the parties in court. If the decision was mailed, the Notice of Appeal must be filed within 30 days after the date the clerk mails the Notice of Entry of Judgment to the parties. The fee for filing an appeal is $75.

Once the defendant files a Notice of Appeal, the judgment from which the appeal is taken can't be enforced, and the defendant need not pay anything to the plaintiff unless and until the appeal is dismissed or the defendant loses the claim on appeal.

Re-Hearing before a Different Judge on Appeal

The appealing party is entitled to a new hearing before a different judge. The plaintiff's claim and any claim filed by the defendant are heard together. The parties must present their cases as if they were being presented for the first time. Nothing from the first hearing is considered by the second judge who hears the case.

A judgment on appeal is final. If you're the plaintiff, once you receive a notice that you won the appeal, you can start trying to collect your judgment. There is no 30 day waiting period, like there is for the original small claims trial. If you're the defendant and you win the appeal, you don't have to pay anything.

Correcting an Error

A plaintiff or defendant may ask but not require the small claims court to re-examine its decision. This is done by filing a Request to Correct or Vacate Judgment, form SC-108. Either party may request the small claims court to correct "a clerical error in the judgment" or vacate a judgment and re-hear the dispute "on the grounds of an incorrect or erroneous legal basis for the decision."

The request must be filed no later than 30 days after the small claims clerk mails or delivers the Notice of Entry of Judgment to the parties.

Court forms can be viewed and printed at California Courts Self-Help Center Small Claims Forms.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Can an attorney represent me at my appeal?
  • Who can file an appeal?
  • Is there a chance that the trial judge will be the one to hear the appeal?
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