Anatomy of a Case

After Trial

Avoiding Collection of a Judgment

If you are the Defendant and you cannot afford to pay the entire sum at once, you should tell the judge immediately and ask for a payment schedule. Judges will usually give a liberal payment schedule to the Defendant. The Plaintiff may be allowed to speak again, on this point only, to tell the judge why such a payment schedule is not fair.

If a Defendant leaves court and discovers that he/she cannot pay, he must call the Small Claims Court clerk and attempt to appear before the judge again to ask for a payment schedule. Be sure to do this if you are the Defendant, because failure to pay or ignoring the judgment will allow the Plaintiff to pursue other remedies, which will be discussed next.

If the person pays the full amount, the Plaintiff [or whoever the winner is] may be required to file a document, sometimes called a Satisfaction of Judgment, indicating to the world that the judgment has already been paid. Be sure as a Defendant, before you actually pay, that you receive such a document. At least be sure you receive a written promise signed by the person to whom you are paying the money that they will file a Satisfaction of Judgment. It is the responsibility of the party paying the money to make sure such a document is entered on the court records, or to insist the plaintiff comply. If this document is not entered, your credit rating may be affected or it could show up as unpaid on your credit report years later.

In the event the plaintiff, or winner, will not file this document, you should call the clerk of the court and request an appearance before the judge to see if the court will enter the judgment. You might take all of your written documents concerning your repeated requests of the plaintiff to enter a Satisfaction of Judgment and show the court how these requests were ignored. Some states will not allow this procedure.

After Trial
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