Generally, the judge's decision will be announced at the end of a small claims trial. However, sometimes the judge will want to take additional time to review the evidence or research case law before entering a final judgment. When this occurs, the parties will receive a copy of the final judgment in the mail.
Motion for a New Trial
If the parties feel the judge has made an error, they have ten days from the date the judgment is signed by the judge to file for a rehearing with the clerk of the court. The motion must specifically state the reason a new trial is requested.
The court will rule on the motion by deciding whether or not there are grounds for a new hearing. The court will examine the motion and either grant a new hearing with notice or deny the motion.
An unsatisfied party has the right to appeal a judgment to the circuit court. However, the procedures for appealing a judgment are complex so it's best to consult an experienced attorney. Also, detailed instructions for filing a small claims appeal are available from the clerk of the court.
On appeal, the circuit court will review the law used to decide the case; it will not review the facts of the case. Parties have 30 days to file an appeal.
Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure
The Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure govern the court's review of orders and judgments. You can find the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure on The Florida Bar Web site.
Correcting an Error
Either party may file a motion requesting the small claims court to correct a clerical mistake in a judgment, order or other parts of the record. The motion may be made at any time.
Motion for Relief
Either party may file a motion requesting relief from a final judgment, order or proceeding for these reasons:
- Mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect
- Newly discovered evidence
- Fraud, misrepresentation or other misconduct
- The judgment is void
- The judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged or a prior judgment on which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated or it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application
Generally, the motion must be made within one year after the judgment, order or proceeding was entered or taken.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Is the appeals process expensive, and how often are appeals filed in small claims cases?
- Could you review my small claims case and tell me whether I should file any motions for relief from judgment?
- What is newly discovered evidence? Can I base a motion for relief on newly discovered evidence only if it was not available to me at the time of trial?