Receiving The Judges Decision
NOTICE OF ENTRY OF JUDGMENT:
The Notice of Entry of Judgment is a court form that states the judges decision.
This form also tells you about your rights and lists the date the form was mailed to you. This date is very important. You have only 30 days from this date to file a motion to vacate the judgment or appeal the judges decision. Exception: If you are the defendant and you did not go to court because you were not properly served with the Plaintiffs Claim, you have 180 days to file a motion to vacate the judgment.
If the judge ruled on the case at the time of your trial, you should receive the Notice of Entry of Judgment in the mail within 2 weeks after your trial. If the judge took the case “under submission” it can take several weeks to receive the Notice. You can view the status of your case. If you do not receive a Notice you should contact the clerk by either visiting or writing to the Small Claims Clerk at the courthouse where your trial was held
STAY OF ENFORCEMENT OF JUDGMENT:
The plaintiff cannot enforce the judgment for 30 days from the date the Notice of Entry of Judgment was mailed by the clerk to the parties. During those 30 days, the defendant can:
- File an Appeal if they appeared at the trial
- File a Motion to Vacate the Judgment if they did not appear at the trial
- Pay the judgment
How To Vacate Your Judgment
How To Answer The Other Partys Request To Correct Or Cancel The Judgment
If you received a copy of a Request to Correct or Cancel Judgment and Answer in the mail, you should carefully read the request of the other party. You can agree, or disagree with the Request by completing 6 through 9 of the second page of the form and filing it with the court. This is called an Answer to the Request to Correct or Cancel Judgment . Mail or deliver it to the court right away. Failure to do so may result in the granting of other partys request to correct or cancel the judgment.
You must also mail a copy of your Answer to the other parties. Insert the date that you mailed the copies under number 8. Do not forget to date and sign the form under number 9.
The court will mail you its decision or set a hearing date.
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Relief Under Section 4735 For Lack Of Actual Notice
Another method of vacating a judgment that is not as well known as a section 473 motion is a motion to vacate a default or judgment under California Code of Civil Procedure section 473.5 on the grounds that the service of the summons and complaint on the moving party did not result in actual notice in time to defend the lawsuit, and that their lack of actual notice was not caused by their avoidance of service or inexcusable neglect.
In the right situations, filing a motion under section 473.5 is very useful as the time limit for filing a motion under Section 473.5 is substantially longer than the six months allowed by Section 473. Some attorneys and other legal professionals are not aware of Section 473.5 and are under the impression that after six months there is nothing that can be done to vacate a default judgment.
California Code of Civil Procedure section 473.5 states in pertinent part that:
A motion to vacate under section 473.5 is often filed when someone may not have received actual notice of a lawsuit, including situations where substitute service may have been used at an address at which that person no longer lives, someone may have forgotten to give the defendant the summons and complaint or a situation where service was done by publication.
Discretionary Relief Under Ccp Section 473
The first and most well known method for vacating a default or judgment is filing a motion to vacate under Code of Civil Procedure section 473 on the grounds of mistake, inadvertance, surprise or excusable neglect.
This is the most commonly used method for vacating a default or judgment in California. California Code of Civil Procedure § 473 states in pertinent part that:
The Court may, upon any terms as may be just, relieve a party, or his or her legal representative from a judgment, dismissal, order or other proceeding, taken against him or her through his or her mistake, inadvertance, surprise or excusable neglect. Application for this relief shall be accompanied by a copy of the answer or other pleading proposed to be filed therein, otherwise the application shall not be granted, and shall be made within a reasonable time, in no case exceeding six months, after the judgment, dismissal, order, or proceeding was taken.
This motion is known as discretionary relief as the judge has the discretion to grant or deny the motion.
Another factor to consider is that the California courts have held that the six-month period runs from entry of default, not entry of judgment. See Manson, Iver & York v. Black 176 Cal.App.4th 36, 42.
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Directed Verdict Or Nonsuit Not Required
There is no requirement in the law to prevent a court from granting a motion for judgment NOV without having gone through a motion for directed verdict or nonsuit. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 629 as amended in 1963, the condition that a motion for directed verdict had to be first made before a judge could consider NOV was eliminated. 116 Cal.App.3d 414, 417, 48 Cal. 3d 711, 738) see also 7 Witkin, Cal. Procedure § 438 .)
Q& a Setting Aside Default Judgments
In what situations can a judge set aside a default judgment?
The courts rules state the circumstances in which a judge can set aside a default judgment. – JCRCP 60-.) A judge can set aside a default judgment for the following reasons, among others:
- Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect of the party who failed to defend himself in the case
- Fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct by the party who filed the case
- The judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged
- The summons and complaint were never personally served to the defendant who judgment was entered against
So to set aside your default judgment, the judge must agree that one of these reasons addresses your particular situation and that your circumstances warrant the judgment being set aside.
Is there a deadline or time limit for me to ask the judge to set aside the default judgment against me?
Your deadline for filing a motion to set aside the default depends on the specific reason you are asking the judge to set the judgment aside.
If you are asking the judge to set aside your default judgment:
FYI! After a party obtains a judgment, they must prepare a document called a Notice of Entry. They attach a copy of the judgment to the Notice of Entry, file it with the court, and mail it to all parties in the case to give them notice of the default judgment. Thats the written notice of entry referred to above.
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Mandatory Relief Under Ccp Section 473
The second method of vacating a default or judgment in California is mandatory relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473 using an attorney affidavit of fault.
Code of Civil Procedure section 473 states in pertinent part that,
Note that the judge cannot require that the attorney pay any of the costs or penalties as a condition of granting the relief.
The attorney affidavit of fault procedure differs in two major respects from the standard section 473 motion, the six month deadline begins to run upon entry of judgment or dismissal, not when a default is entered, and relief is mandatory, not discretionary as with a standard section 473 motion.
Where an attorney affidavit of fault is filed, there is no requirement that the attorneys mistake, inadvertence, etc. be excusable meaning that relief must be granted even where the default resulted from inexcusable neglect by the defendants attorney, and the same rule applies to dismissals resulting from inexcusable neglect by the attorney. Further, the court is not concerned with the reasons for the attorneys mistake.
The attorney affidavit of fault method can be very useful even if an attorney is hesitant to admit fault as it will avoid any possible malpractice claims by the client.
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Set Aside Default Judgments
If you could, imagine having a bank account with money in it. Imagine owning a house and having a good job with a flush paycheck. Now, imagine that a judgment creditor takes all the money in your account and starts garnishing your wages without you ever knowing that you had been sued. This happens all the time. It happens, most of time, when a Defendant is sued and isnt properly served. This starts a chain of events which lead to a default and default judgment then ultimately collection efforts like garnishments and levies. The remedy is to either file bankruptcy, settle the judgment or attach the judgment with a motion to set aside.
What is service in California?
The two most popular ways to serve a party are by personal service or by substitute service . Personal service occurs when a copy of the summons and complaint is delivered to the person to be served. Substitute service allows a Plaintiff effectuate service by handing the summons and complaint to a person who is apparently in charge or member of the household at the dwelling house, usual place of abode, usual place of business, or usual mailing address of the person to be served and thereafter mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to that same address. Although there are other ways to serve a party, personal service and substitute service are by far the most common.
How long do I have to respond to a lawsuit?
What do I do if I have a Default Judgment in a case I didnt know about?
The Bottom Line
Motion To Enforce Sister
The full faith and credit clause of the United States Constitution, Article IV, Section 1, requires a state to enforce a judgment rendered in another state, but only where all parties were provided reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard. 47 Cal.App.4th 1518, 1521.) If a sister-state judgment was obtained in violation of constitutional protections, including due process, full faith and credit must be denied. 179 Cal.App.4th 169, 179.)
The full faith and credit provision of the Constitution is designed to provide a method of proving the record of a judicial proceeding in one state for the express purpose of carrying out the result of that proceeding in other states. 83 Cal.App.4th 583, 592-593.) This provision requires that the judgment of another state be given as much effect in the state of the forum as in the state of its rendition. 151 Cal.App.4th 184, 201 Code of Civ. Proc., §§ 1710.10, et seq. Martin v. Martin 2 Cal.3d 752, 762 fn.13.)
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What Is A Motion To Vacate Judgment
The Court shall render judgment in favor of the aggrieved party notwithstanding the verdict whenever a motion for a directed verdict for the aggrieved party should have been granted had a previous motion been made. .)
Unlike the standards applicable to a Motion for New Trial, he purpose of a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict is not to afford a review of the jurys deliberation but to prevent a miscarriage of justice in those cases where the verdict rendered is without foundation. 144 Cal.App.4th 1175, 1194 .)
A motion for JNOV challenges whether the opposing partys evidence was sufficient to prove the claims or defenses asserted and embodied by the jurys verdict. 14 Cal.3d 104, 110.)
Vacating A Default Judgment
This guide provides general information for Californians who are facing debt collection lawsuits in the Superior Courts of California. It does not apply to courts outside the state of California. It is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice in your individual case.
What is a judgment? A judgment is the courts written, final decision in the case. If the judgment is against you, it will state how much money you owe to the plaintiff.
What is a judgment creditor? A judgment creditor is a creditor or debt buyer that has obtained a judgment against a defendant.
What is a default judgment? When a defendant fails to file a written Answer with the court the court will issue a judgment against the defendant. A judgment issued under those circumstances is commonly known as a default judgment. The court usually awards the plaintiff the amount demanded in the complaint, plus interest and court costs. The court usually awards attorneys fees on a default judgment based of a schedule published by the court.
Can I re-open a default judgment? Yes. Under certain circumstances, it is possible to vacate a default judgment. The court has a special procedure for determining whether to vacate a default judgment. The procedure is relatively straightforward, but often requires a noticed motion and a hearing before the judge.
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What Is A Motion To Vacate Default Judgment
The Code of Civil Procedure, section 473 provides the court with discretionary and mandatory authority to relieve a party from default.
The Code provides that he court may, upon any terms as may be just, relieve a party or his or her legal representative from a judgment, dismissal, order, or other proceeding taken against him or her through his or her mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect. Application for this relief shall be accompanied by a copy of the answer or other pleading proposed to be filed therein, otherwise the application shall not be granted, and shall be made within a reasonable time, in no case exceeding six months, after the judgment, dismissal, order, or proceeding was taken…. Notwithstanding any other requirements of this section, the court shall, whenever an application for relief is made no more than six months after entry of judgment, is in proper form, and is accompanied by an attorneys sworn affidavit attesting to his or her mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect, vacate any resulting default entered by the clerk against his or her client, and which will result in entry of a default judgment, or resulting default judgment or dismissal entered against his or her client, unless the court finds that the default or dismissal was not in fact caused by the attorney’s mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect. Code of Civ. Proc., § 473.
If the party does not reply in time, Civil Code, section 473.5 may apply:
Removing The Default Judgment
In California a defendant has a specified period of time to file an answer or other appearance in Court after being served by a plaintiff and failure to respond within that time period allows the plaintiff to enter a default and eventually obtain a judgment predicated on default. See our article on Default Hearings: Not Always a Slam Dunk.
It is vital to understand that a default judgment, once entered, is the same as any other judgment, with all the ability to attach assets and garnish wages as any other judgment.
Depending on the State, the plaintiff may have to apply for a hearing to prove damages. In arbitration proceedings, the plaintiff has to prove both liability and damages but in court default hearings in California, liability is presumed due to the entry of the default and the plaintiff only need prove damages.
In some jurisdictions and with some types of cases the plaintiff can enter judgment based on papers and declarations filed with the Court and need not appear in Court to present testimony. Some types of courts and cases require a full hearing with testimony, though there is no defendant there to cross examine. But in all cases, once the judgment is entered, the creditor has the full battery of collection remedies available as if the creditor had gone to trial and won before a judge or jury.
Why do defendants allow such judgments to occur without contesting?
This article discusses what remedies may be available to a party facing a default judgment.
How To Structure The Motion
The party against whom a verdict has been rendered may move the court for judgment notwithstanding the verdict . .)
A judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of defendant is proper only where no evidence of sufficient substantiality supports the verdict in plaintiffs favor. This is determined by disregarding evidence on defendants behalf, giving plaintiffs evidence all the value to which it is legally entitled, and indulging in every legitimate inference that may be drawn from that evidence. 51 Cal. 2d 94, 99 see also Hauter v. Zogarts 14 Cal.3d 104, 110 .)