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Appealing Small Claims Court Judgments

Appealing small claims court judgments and decisions are only possible if the amount initially claimed by the Plaintiff is less than a certain amount.

Typically $300, or if the party who files a claim or counterclaim loses, he or she is not permitted to appeal the small claims court judgment if the amount claimed was less than $1,000.

Otherwise, if a judgment is awarded against you, you can appeal the small claims court's decision by completing a written "Notice of Appeal" and then filing it in the Superior Court for a fee (around $100).

NOTE: Most states only allow 30 days for appealing small claims court judgments - check with your court clerk to be sure.

Steps for filing an appeal:

  1. Complete a written Notice of Appeal
  2. Serve a copy of the Notice of Appeal on the other party
  3. File the original Notice of Appeal in the district court where your claim was originally heard.
  4. File a Return of Service Form - Affidavit with the Notice of Appeal
  5. Have the court clerk forward a copy of the original hearing transcript to the superior court (small fee $5 to $12)
  6. Post a bond of cash or surety (usually $100) at the district court. Note: To postpone enforcement of the small claims judgment against you, may require you to file a bond of at least twice the amount of the judgment.
  7. Pay the Appeal filing fee (cash, money order or cashier's check only) payable to the Superior court clerk. (fees vary but are usually $75 to $150)

Soon after filing your appeal, the superior court notifies all parties of the court procedures and the date of the hearing.

Judgments and Court Decisions

After hearing all evidence by both parties, the judge announces his or her decision, called the Judgment.

If the plaintiff wins, the judge decides how much money the defendant owes and awards a "money judgment". If both parties are present for the hearing, the judge may prescribe certain terms and conditions for paying the judgment, including a payment plan.

If the defendant wins, the judge dismisses the case without awarding any money to the plaintiff. If the defendant has brought a counterclaim the judge will either dismiss it or decide how much money the plaintiff owes the defendant

Note: If you are the plaintiff, once the judge enters a judgment, immediately but politely, ask the judge to ask the defendant if he or she is able to pay that day or within a few days. If the defendant cannot pay right away, ask the judge to order a payment plan.

If you have won a judgment but were not paid right away, you may have to pursue collection actions including wage or bank account garnishment.

Collecting small claims court judgments and garnishment actions