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After Your Day in Court
Can you have the judge’s decision changed if you did not appear in court?

If you did not appear and a judgment[G] was made you can ask the Small Claims Court to set aside[G] or vacate[G] the judgment. It does not matter if you are the plaintiff[G] or the defendant[G] you can make this request. You will need to complete a Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration (Small Claims) (SC-135) and explain why you did not appear. If the judge finds good cause[G] for you not appearing at your court date the request to vacate (set aside) the judgment may be granted. You must file to vacate the judgment within set time limits.
If you did not appear and you are the: You must file your motion[G] to vacate within:
Plaintiff 30 days
Defendant 30 days if you were served properly
180 days if you were not served properly
For information about serving a claim properly, go to How do you notify the defendant about your claim? section.
If you are the defendant and your request to vacate is not granted you have 10 days from the mailing date of the notice of denial to appeal[G] the decision. You will need to file a Notice of Appeal (SC-140) with the Small Claims Court.
For the forms listed above and for a complete list of Judicial Council Small Claims forms, go to the California Courts website.
Can you have the judge’s decision changed if you did appear in court?

You can ask for an appeal of a Small Claims Court judgment only if you are the defendant and the judgment was made against you. You must file a Notice of Appeal (SC-140) within 30 days of the date that you received the Notice of Entry of Judgment (Small Claims) (SC-130) in court or the date it was mailed. When you file an appeal:
  • The judgment cannot be enforced[G]
  • You do not have to pay the judgment until you lose the appeal or it is dismissed
  • Your appeal court date will be before a different judge
You should only file an appeal if you believe you have a valid reason. You should not file just to delay paying the other
party[G]. If the judge who hears your appeal determines that you filed only to harass the other party or encourage them to abandon their claim, the court can award them a judgment against you for additional expenses.
If you are the plaintiff you cannot appeal the judge’s decision on your claim.
For the forms listed above and for a complete list of Judicial Council Small Claims forms, go to the California Courts website.
What can you do if you believe an error was made?

If you are the defendant or plaintiff you may ask the Small Claims Court to correct a clerical error in a judgment. You will need to file a Request to Correct or Cancel Judgment and Answer (Small Claims) (SC-108) and clearly describe the error. You must file a Request to Correct or Cancel Judgment and Answer (Small Claims) (SC-108) within 30 days of the date that you received the Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130) in court or the date it was mailed. You will appear before the same judge who originally heard your claim.
For the forms listed above and for a complete list of Judicial Council Small Claims forms, go to the California Courts website.
How can you collect a judgment?

You are the judgment creditor[G] (plaintiff or defendant) if you won the claim. The judgment becomes final 30 days after you receive the Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130) or the date it is mailed. If the defendant has not filed a Notice of Appeal (SC-140) or a Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration (SC-135) you may collect the judgment.
important
The court will not collect the judgment for you.
If you are the judgment creditor you want to make sure the judgment debtor[G] is aware of the judgment and knows where to send the payment. You may want to work with the debtor to arrange payments. You might want to accept several payments over time or forgive interest in exchange for full payment.
You have a number of ways to enforce a judgment if the judgment debtor refuses to pay it willingly:
If you: This means: You may:
Levy execution on the debtor’s wages A wage garnishment[G] of the judgment debtor’s wages until the debt is paid.
  • File a Writ of Execution (EJ-130) so the court can direct the Sheriff[G] to enforce your judgment.
  • Complete an Application for Earnings Withholding Order (WG-001) and pay a fee for it to be issued.
Levy execution on the debtor’s bank accounts A bank levy[G] will be placed on the judgment debtor’s bank accounts to pay the judgment.
  • File a Writ of Execution (EJ-130) and pay a fee for it to be issued.
  • Need the name and branch address of the bank.
Record an Abstract of Judgment A lien[G] is placed on any property owned by the judgment debtor. If the property is sold you will be paid out of proceeds before the title can be transferred.
  • File an Abstract of Judgment (EJ-001) and pay a fee for it to be issued.
  • Record it with the county recorder in each county where the judgment debtor owns property.
Have the Sheriff do a till tap[G] Money is removed by the Sheriff from the cash register of a business if the judgment debtor is the business. If the initial till tap does not pay the full judgment amount, you can have additional till taps done.
  • Need to file a Writ of Execution (EJ-130) and pay a fee for it to be issued.
  • Take the form issued by the clerk to the Sheriff, request in writing that a till tap be performed, and pay a fee.
  • Pay a fee each time it is done.
Put a keeper[G] in the debtor’s business A Sheriff will remain in the judgment debtor’s business and collect all fund until the judgment is paid. This can include:
  • Cash
  • Checks
  • Credit card drafts
  • Need to file a Writ of Execution (EJ-130) and pay a fee for it to be issued.
  • Take the form issued by the clerk to the Sheriff, request in writing that a keeper be placed at the business, and pay a fee.
  • Pay another fee if the Sheriff has to go back because the debtor closes the business while the Sheriff is there.
Conduct a judgment debtor’s examination You have the judgment debtor appear in court to answer questions about their money and property that can be used to pay the judgment. You can subpoena[G] documents such as bank statements, pay stubs and property deeds.
  • Need to file an Application for Order to
    Produce Statement of Assets and to Appear
    for Examination (SC-134)
    and pay a fee for it to be issued.
  • Need the Small Claims clerk[G] to issue a Small Claims Subpoena for Personal Appearance and Production of Documents at Trial or Hearing and Declaration (SC-107) if you want the debtor to bring certain documents. These forms must be served by the Sheriff, a registered process server[G], or a person appointed by court order at the judgment creditor’s request.
Suspend the judgment debtor’s driver’s license You may have the judgment debtor’s driver’s license suspended if the judgment was not paid within 30 day of final judgment.
  • Have the judgment debtor’s license suspended 90 days if judgment was less then $750.00.
  • Have the debtor’s license suspended until the judgment is paid if your judgment is more than $750.00.
If you need help in completing the forms to collect a judgment, please contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs’ Small Claims Court Advisor Program.
For additional information on collecting your judgment, go to the California Courts website.
For the forms listed above and for a complete list of Judicial Council Small Claims forms, go to the California Courts website.
For a complete list of fee amounts, go to Fees section.
How can you pay a judgment?

You are the judgment debtor[G] if you lost the claim. The judgment becomes final 30 days after you receive the Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130) or the date it is mailed. If you have not filed a Notice of Appeal (SC-140) or Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment (SC-135) you must pay the judgment.
You must complete a Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets (SC-133) if you do not pay the judgment against you within 30 days. You will receive this form with the Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130). You are required to provide information about your income and assets[G] which are used in collecting the money you owe. You can be brought back into court when the judgment creditor completes and files an Application and Order to Produce Statement of Assets and to Appear for Examination (SC-134) if you do not supply this information. You will then have to submit the Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets (SC-133) to the court.
You have a number of ways to pay a judgment:
You can request: You will:
Payment to the court Complete a Request to Pay Judgment to Court (SC-145) and submit it with the total judgment amount. You may want to pay through the court if you:
  • Do not want to deal with the plaintiff
  • Cannot find the plaintiff
  • Want to end the claim immediately
The Small Claims clerk completes and files an Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (EJ-100). There is a fee for this service.
A motion[G] for time payments Ask the court for permission to pay the judgment in payments. You should ask the plaintiff if they are willing to accept payments. If you and the plaintiff cannot agree on a payment plan you will need to file:
  • Request to Pay Judgment in Installments (SC-106)
  • Financial Statement (EJ-165)
Copies of these forms are sent to the plaintiff by the court. A hearing may be held to determine if the payment terms are acceptable.
For the forms listed above and for a complete list of Judicial Council Small Claims forms, go to the California Courts website.
Can you protect property or income from a judgment?

You may be able to protect some of your property and income from being taken to pay a judgment. Exempt assets[G] that may be protected are listed on Exemptions from the Enforcement of Judgments (EJ-155)
You will need to file a Claim of Exemption (EJ-160) within 10 days after you receive notice that your property may be taken as payment of a judgment. You will need to file a Claim of Exemption (Wage Garnishment) (WG-006) if a garnishment is placed against your wages. Any assets and wages that are to be protected will be decided by the court.
For the forms listed above and for a complete list of Judicial Council Small Claims forms, go to the California Courts website.
What do you do when you have been paid the judgment?

You must file the Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment section of the Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130) or an Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (EJ-100) when you have been paid the judgment in full.
You must file the longer Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (EJ-100) if you filed an Abstract of Judgment (EJ-001) in any county where the judgment debtor owned property. You will need to have this notarized before having it recorded by the county recorder.
You must file the Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (EJ-100) within 14 days of receiving a written request by the judgment debtor. You can be liable for any loses that the judgment debtor has because of your failure to do so. There may be other fines that you will have to pay.
For the forms listed above and for a complete list of Judicial Council Small Claims forms, go to the California Courts website.
How is it recorded that you have paid the judgment?

The judgment creditor must complete, sign and file the Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment section of the Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130) or an Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (EJ-100) when you have paid the judgment in full.
You may ask the Small Claims Court how you can satisfy the judgment if the judgment creditor does not file an Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (EJ-130). You will need to complete a Declaration of Judgment Debtor Regarding Satisfaction of Judgment (SC-20) and supply proof that you have paid the judgment. This proof should be signed by the judgment creditor and can be a:
  • Cash receipt
  • Check
  • Money order
The recorded Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130) or Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (EJ-100) is considered the receipt for the judgment and is used to close the case.
For the forms listed above and for a complete list of Judicial Council Small Claims forms, go to the California Courts website.
 
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