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 the law before entering a final judgment. When this occurs, the parties 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 14 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 why a new trial is requested.
The court rules on the motion by deciding whether or not there are grounds for a new hearing. The court examines the motion and either grants a new hearing with notice or denies the motion.
An unsatisfied party has the right to appeal a judgment to the appellate 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.
The appellate court reviews the law used to decide the case. It won't review the facts of the case. Parties have 30 days to file an appeal.
Ohio Rules of Appellate Procedure
The Ohio Rules of Appellate Procedure govern the court's review of orders and judgments. You can find the Ohio Rules of Appellate Procedure on The Supreme Court of Ohio 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
- A prior judgment on which the judgment is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated
- It is no longer equitable for the judgment to be applied
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?