After the civil trial
If a judge or jury decides in your favor, your next step is to get a judgment. This is the final court order that says what was decided, including how much you are owed.
If the judge or jury decides you lost your trial, pay close attention to see if you were ordered to do anything, like pay for some or all of the other side's lawsuit costs.
If the judge decides the other side owes you money
If the judge (or a jury) decides the other side owes you money, the judge will sign a Judgment. The judgment should say how much you are awarded and who has to pay it. It may also say you are entitled to costs or attorney’s fees. Costs and fees are usually handled through filings made after the entry of judgment.
Preparing the judgment
The court may issue the judgment, or it may ask you to prepare it. If you are asked to prepare it:
- You can probably use Judgment (form JUD-100). Be careful when filling it out as it needs to be accurate. It should say exactly what the judge ordered at your trial.
- Usually, you send a copy to the other side for review and comment. After five days, you submit the proposed judgment to the court along with the other side’s comments, if any.
- The court should forward the judgment to the judge for review and signature. The judgment is typically filed by the court.
- Serve the other side with a Notice of Entry of Judgment (form CIV-130) which includes a copy of the entered judgment. This shortens their time to file an appeal or take other action to attack the judgment. Also, this let's them know about what's owed, so they know to pay you.
It's possible the other side may ask for a new trial or appeal
If they missed the court date because of an emergency or feel they made a mistake, they can file a motion to set aside. This is asking the judge for a “do over” because of “mistake, inadvertence, or excusable neglect.” They generally have six months to do this, but they need to act within a reasonable time after finding out about the order.
They can also file a motion to ask for a new trial. This can be for a variety of issues including irregularities in the proceedings, finding new evidence, or excessive damages.
If they think the judge didn't follow the law, they can file an appeal. This is a request for a higher court to review the judge’s decision.
If the judge decides you lost your case
In addition to saying you lost, the judge may also order that you have to pay the other side's costs, like filing fees and attorney fees. The judge may also decide that you have to do other things the other side asked for. If the other side sued you back, you may owe them the amount the judge ordered, if any.
Talk to a lawyer if you want to try to attack a judgment. A lawyer can help explain what option you might have and what they recommend you do.