Generally, the judge's decision is announced at the end of a small claims trial. However, sometimes the judge wants to take additional time to review the evidence or research case law before entering a final judgment. When this occurs, the parties receive a copy of the final judgment in the mail. A party to the small claims lawsuit may be unhappy with the judgment and want to appeal.
An unsatisfied party has the right to appeal a judgment to the district court. The right of appeal from a judgment exists for 30 days. The clerk of court can give the unsatisfied party a notice of appeal form that must be filed with the clerk to start the appeal process. Either party can ask for a jury trial on an appeal. After the notice of appeal is filed, a hearing is scheduled. Notice of the date and time of the hearing will be mailed to both parties.
The hearing on appeal will be assigned to a different judge and is more formal than the trial hearing. The court will treat the lawsuit as a new case and not look for mistakes in the first hearing.
Although parties may not have attorneys in a small claims trial hearing, attorneys may represent parties on appeal. If a party decides to represent himself on appeal, he'll be held to the same standards as an attorney.
Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure
The Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure govern the court's review of orders and judgments. These rules provide the framework for how the court operates and handles appeals.
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
- Any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment
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 wasn't available to me at the time of trial?