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Is there a way to change the Judgment?

What if I did not appear in court?

If you did not appear and a judgment was made, you can ask the Small Claims Court to set aside or vacate the judgment. You can make this request if you are the plaintiff or the defendant. You will need to complete a Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration (Small Claims) (SC-135) and explain why you did not appear. If the judge finds good cause for you not appearing on your court date the request to vacate (set aside) the judgment may be granted. You must file the motion to vacate the judgment within set time limits.


If you did not appear and you are the: You must file your motion to vacate within:
Plaintiff 30 days
Defendant
30 days if you were served properly
180 days if you were not served properly

For information about serving a claim properly, go to the "How do I serve notice to the defendant(s)?" section. If you are the defendant and your request to vacate is not granted, you have 10 days from the mailing date of the notice of denial to appeal the decision. You will need to file a Notice of Appeal (SC-140) with the Small Claims Court.


What if I am the defendant?


You can ask for an appeal of a Small Claims Court judgment only if you are the defendant and the judgment was made against you. (As indicated above, if you are the defendant and you did not appear at the small claims hearing, you cannot appeal and only can file a motion to vacate the judgment.) In order to appeal, you must file a Notice of Appeal (SC-140) within 30 days of the date that you received the Notice of Entry of Judgment (Small Claims) (SC-130) in court or the date it was mailed. When you file an appeal, the judgment cannot be enforced. You do not have to pay the judgment until you lose the appeal or it is dismissed. Your appeal court date will be before a different judge. You should only file an appeal if you believe you have a valid reason. You should not file just to delay paying the other party. If the judge who hears your appeal determines that you filed only to harass the other party or encourage them to abandon their claim, the court can award them a judgment against you for additional expenses. If you are the plaintiff you cannot appeal the judge’s decision on your claim.

  • The judgment cannot be enforced if an appeal has been filed
  • Your appeal court date will be before a different judge
  • You do not have to pay the judgment until you lose the appeal or it is dismissed

Only file an appeal if you believe you have a valid reason. Do not file just to delay paying the other party. If the judge who hears your appeal determines that you filed only to harass the other party or encourage him/her to abandon his/her claim, the court can award him/her a judgment against you for additional expenses. If you are the plaintiff you cannot appeal the judge’s decision on your claim.


What if a clerical error was made?


If you are the defendant or plaintiff you may ask the Small Claims Court to correct a clerical error in a judgment. You will need to file a Request to Correct or Cancel Judgment and Answer (Small Claims) (SC-108) and clearly describe the error. You must file this form within 30 days of the date that you received the Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130) in court or the date it was mailed. You will appear in the same court your case was heard.


For the forms listed above and for a complete list of Judicial Council Small Claims forms, go to the California Courts website.

More Small Claims Q&A Topics
Small Claims Basics
Thinking about Filing a Small Claims case?
Filing my case
Serving Notice of my case to the defendant
Responding to a Small Claims case as a defendant
Appearing in Court
Your Day in Court
Collecting a Judgment
Paying a Judgment
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