Generally, the justice of the peace'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 justice of the peace 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.
You may appeal a small claims case to the district court. You must file an appeal within five days after the judgment is entered. Detailed instructions for filing a small claims appeal are available from the justice court.
Generally, the district court doesn't reverse the decision made in a small claims case. If you didn't pay a court reporter to record your hearing and provide a transcript, your chances of reversal aren't very good because the appeals judge will have a hard time knowing what happened at the first hearing.
There are additional costs involved when you make an appeal. There are filing fees, the cost of the transcript, time off of work, witness fees and so forth.
If the judgment is against you and you are appealing, you may also want to file a supersedeas bond for the total of the judgment including court costs so the other side can't attempt to collect the judgment while the appeal process is taking place. It's a type of surety bond and ensures prompt payment of the judgment if the challenged decision is affirmed by the appellate court.
Court Does Not Investigate
If the court's judgment was in your favor, you are on your own when it comes to collecting the judgment because the court doesn't investigate, collect money or accept payments from judgment debtors. Also, the court won't give advice on collection methods.
Satisfaction of Judgment
When a party satisfies or pays the judgment, the other party must file a "Satisfaction of Judgment" form with the court. The court can provide the form upon request. To get a judgment removed from your credit report, you may request a certified copy of the satisfaction of judgment from the court once it has been filed, and you can mail it to the credit bureau as proof of payment.
Questions for Your Attorney
- I didn't 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 at an appeal?
- How long does it generally take to get the judge's decision by mail if the judgment wasn't announced at the trial?