Generally, the judge's decision will be announced at the end of a small claims trial. The judgment will specify which side prevailed and if money damages are being awarded and the amount of those damages.
Sometimes the judge will want to take additional time to review the evidence or research case law before entering a judgment. After judgment is entered, the plaintiff becomes the judgment creditor and the defendant becomes the judgment debtor.
In North Dakota parties aren't allowed to appeal the judgment. By electing to proceed in small claims court, the plaintiff waives the right to appeal to any other court from the decision of the small claims court. The defendant waives the right to appeal from the decision of the small claims court upon receiving the order for appearance, unless the defendant elects to remove the action from the small claims court to district court.
If the defendant elects to remove the action to district court, the defendant must serve a notice of the removal on the plaintiff and file a copy of the claim affidavit and the defendant's answer with the clerk of the district court. Also, the defendant must pay a filing fee.
Payment of Judgment
The judgment debtor has ten days from the date of notice of entry of judgment in which to pay the judgment sum. If the debtor doesn't pay, the judgment creditor can start collection proceedings.
Collecting the Judgment
Even if you win a judgment, you may need to take measures to collect it if the other party doesn't willingly pay it. Many times collecting the judgment is harder than proving your case in court.
Questions for Your Attorney
- I didn't receive a final judgment at my trial or in the mail and it's been 30 days since my small claims trial - what should I do?
- What happens if the defendant doesn't appear at the trial?
- How long does it generally take to get the judge's decision by mail if the judgment wasn't announced at the trial?