Judgment


Civil judgment is the final order of a court in a civil lawsuit.  A civil judgment will include a declaration of rights and responsibilities, a finding that one party owes money to the other, or could be many things depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.  A valid judgment resolves all the contested issues and terminates the lawsuit.  It states who wins the case and what remedies the winner is awarded.  Civil remedies include money damages, injunctive relief, or both.

Judgment should necessarily be in writing.  It must clearly show that all the issues have been adjudicated.   It must specifically indicate the parties for and against whom it is given.  If the judgment is to pay definite monetary damages, it should be specified with certainty, and expressed in words rather than figures.  A judgment affecting real property must contain clear description of the property making it easily identifiable.

After pronouncement, judgment must be dated and docketed with the court administrator’s office.  Initially, judgments were entered in a docket book in alphabetic order, so that interested outsiders could have official notice of them.  However, in today’s world, all judgments are saved onto computer databases and maintain docketing and index information.

The court can amend its judgment to correct inaccuracies or ambiguities that might cause its actual intent to be misconstrued.  Persons who were not parties to the action cannot be brought into the lawsuit by an amended judgment.  According to the federal and state laws, a judgment can be amended by a motion served within ten days after the judgment is entered.

There are different types of judgments based on the court process to make the final decision.  A decision arrived at after the facts have been presented and the court has reached a final determination of which party is correct is called judgment on the merits.  A judgment based solely on a procedural error is a dismissal without prejudice and generally will not be considered a judgment on the merits.  A summary judgment is given if the key facts are not disputed and require that judgment be entered for one of the parties.  If the facts are not in dispute, there is no need for a trial.  A Judgment notwithstanding the verdict is a judgment in favor of one party despite a verdict in favor of the opposing litigant.  A court may enter a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, thereby overruling the jury verdict, if the court believes that there was insufficient evidence to justify the jury’s decision.  A final decision that is entered on agreement of the litigants is called a consent judgment, or agreed judgment.  The court will examine and evaluate a request for consent judgment, and, if sanctioned, will be ordered to be recorded as a binding judgment.  A default judgment results from the defendant’s failure to appear in court or from one party’s failure to take appropriate procedural steps. It is entered upon the failure of the party to appear or to plead at an appropriate time. Before a default judgment is entered, the defendant must be properly served notice of the pending action.  The failure to appear or answer is considered an admission of the truth of the opposing party’s pleading, and forms the basis for a default judgment.  A deficiency judgment is rendered in favor of a creditor upon the debtor’s failure to pay his or her obligations for the difference between the amount of the indebtedness and the sum derived from a judicial sale of the debtor’s property held as collateral.

The federal and most state laws allow appeals only from final judgments.