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Small Claims judgement help

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by KyleW, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    Without going into major details of the case, I will try to make this short and simple.

    My mother and I(I was present as a witness) just got done with a small claims case and I guess both parties technically lost. They each have to give up items or pay a judgement to the other. The issue is that during the hearing the other party (Plantiff) could not prove guilt (and yes, I know, I am not the judge) but he mentioned to my mother that she had to give back the item that she had which she never claimed she didn't have. She even told the judge that I have item X but not item Y (item Y is what the Plantiff was suing for).

    When we received the judgement paper in the mail it seems as if the judge got confused and thinks my mother admitted to having item Y and says the she admits to having item Y but claims she doesn't have item X.

    Basically my question is, is there a way that we can go about getting that fixed or do we have to file an appeal and start all over? I personally would rather have her file an appeal since she only got like a total of 5 minutes air time on the mic while the Plantiff got about 25 minutes which is where I think he got confused and didn't listen back to the recording of the hearing.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I don't think anyone here can help you.
    I don't understand your question.
    I have no idea what an "item X" or an "item Y".
    Frankly, I'm surprised that a small claims court ordered a litigant to hand over any "item", as small claims courts tend to to mete out monetary damages.
    Good luck, "secret squirrel".
     
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    As defendant your mother is entitled to an appeal. There will be a new trial with a new judge and the whole thing starts from scratch. The advantage to your mother is knowing what went wrong with her case the first time around and hopefully can do a better job of it the second time around.

    The disadvantage to your mother is that the new trial is not heard at the small claims level, it is heard in regular civil court where the rules and procedures may be more rigorous. Lawyers are also allowed so your mother runs the risk that the other party will bring a lawyer and if your mother doesn't have one, she will be at a disadvantage.

    You can read up on the appeal process at:

    Small Claims Appeals - appeals_selfhelp

    She has 30 days to file notice of appeal.

    If there is some confusion or misunderstanding about the judgment I suggest she file a Motion to Correct using Form SC-108:

    http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/sc108.pdf

    Note that filing the form does not extend the deadline for an appeal so she'd better get it done fast because the plaintiff will be notified and given 10 days to respond. Filing and mailing in both directions plus the 10 days could eat up the 30 day appeal deadline real fast and you don't want to miss that deadline if you don't get a resolution before then.
     
  4. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Thanks for understanding and I believe that is something that I was looking for. And sorry to army judge, I knew I wasn't going to make much sense but I wanted to try and be discrete just in case we have to go back to court. I didn't need anything blasted around the web even though it's not a criminal case.

    And we do have access for $25 to get the recording of everything the judge said so that should help us in filing a correction right?
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Yes, being able to point to the section of the recording where the judge said one thing and it turned out different in the decision would be very helpful and maybe even endear your mother to the judge for being so thoughtful and saving him a lot of time and effort. No guarantees, of course, but it could happen.
     
  6. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    I think it was a honest mistake by the judge and once he sees the form he will probably remember and refer back to his notes. It is all just a terminology error but a pretty critical one since the other party probably would not hold up his end of the judgement as it is right now, I probably wouldn't myself.

    And to answer army judge's confusion about the judgement, it was a pretty straight forward counter suit my mom did. She gave an itemized list with about 90% of the receipts and the other 10% are at his property. The Plantiff has to return ALL the items or pay the cost minus 2 months depreciation and the same goes for my mother.

    But thank you guys for your advice and input and I hope we get this straightened out because there is a few thousand dollar difference in judgement in the Plantiff's favor which my mom won't be able to afford off of her income. This guy is just kind of a sleeve bag. Maybe when this all gets sorted I will post more info on the situation (you may get a kick out of it) depending on what further actions that are non civil related my mother wishes to pursue that are criminal in nature.
     
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I'm already guessing that this was a romance (maybe a live-in) gone bad and a dispute about what property belongs to who.
     
  8. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Yeah that is the obvious part haha

    Not so much about a dispute about what belongs to who since the Plaintiff already stated that he has the property of my mother (minus a few things that he claims they purchased together but she doesn't care about those items). This is mostly about an object he claims my mother has that she "stole" from the house before she left. She just wants this all done and over because he is a piece of work and has no use of the item he claims she has but cant afford to pay what she would have to in the event of a judgement going against her.

    This guy is just so hard up and gets abusive when she didn't dish out money to him whenever he wanted. So now that my mother left and he doesn't have anyone to pay for him he is just trying to do a perfect con and get anything that can last a few months for money.
     
  9. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    That makes her vulnerable.

    She should be willing and able (with your help and moral support) to go scorched earth with this sleaze ball. That kind of strength makes even the sleaziest run and hide.

    It's how I got $200,000 out of my evil ex-wife who thought she could leave me with nothing.
     
  10. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    She is pretty upset but not that vulnerable haha.

    Also, looking over the SC 108 form you provided a link to, how far can that go in requesting a change to the judgement? The reason I ask is because the items that she "doesn't care about" she still wants them just because he claims that they purchased together when that is not true. But she was also unable to provide that evidence at the time of court because she wasn't aware that the Commissioner was going to ask the Plaintiff to go over the list to see if he "has" those items. They were purchased by her (cash) on her rewards card, and one of the items was delivered to her in her name. Or would this be considered an appeal and possibly asking to much of the Commissioner?

    **Before when I mentioned Judge I meant to say Commissioner if that makes any difference
     
  11. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Ask for anything and everything and let the judge decide what the limits are.

    Asking might not get, but failing to ask guarantees that you don't get.
     
  12. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Will do!!! I just wasn't too sure if that was the right place because it technically isn't a correction. It is just worrying because of time constraints of this stuff plus Monday is a holiday, today the small claims court is closed, and we only have 30 days to file an appeal if need be.

    I suppose my mother can just file an appeal to be on the safe side? If everything comes out ok she can then vacate (if it's the correct term)? But then it starts everything all over again and gives him ample time to come up with more lies which benefitted my mother because he was the Plaintiff and had to prove everything and spent 30+ minutes trying to plea a case solely on "character" which the Commissioner was getting irritated with.

    I'm just worried that if she does do an appeal, she would now be the Plaintiff right? And how does she prove that she doesn't have a particular object? He had a really tough time trying to prove that she does... See where I am going here? I know this is probably stuff for a lawyer and you guys just provide advice and all, but is that how an appeal would work? Basically do the roles get switched or since this is an appeal on an existing case, is she still the Defendant?
     
  13. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Yes.

    Withdraw the appeal is the correct term and the process if she no longer needs to do it.

    No, she would still be the Defendant. Take a look at the form:

    http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/sc140.pdf

    Her name goes on the right under Defendant and Mr Sleaze goes on the left under Plaintiff even though she is filing the notice.

    In the middle she is still Defendant and he is Plaintiff and the court will send notice to both.

    Further down she checks the box to appeal the small claims judgment, prints and signs her name. She keeps a copy of the filing and files the original.

    I know, if you read my stuff you'll find I often admonish people to keep copies. You'd be astounded as to how many people hand over important documents without keeping copies and have reason to regret it later.

    I've never sat in on a CA small claims case, let alone an appeal and, as you might have surmised, I'm no lawyer, but I envision a trial "de novo" (new trial - do over) as playing out the same way as the first one did procedurally. Plaintiff Mr Sleaze goes first, just as he did before, can present any information that he wants, even new stuff. Then your Mom, the Defendant gets up and says her piece and presents any evidence, even new stuff.

    I suppose both parties will have some advantage in that they both will know what went wrong or right in the first trial and both can make appropriate adjustment with appropriate evidence, even bring new witnesses who were not present in the first trial.

    Remember, it's a new judge who knows nothing about the first trial and is hearing all this for the first time. .
     
  14. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    Now I'm starting to realize that the way Small Claims work in California is a huge joke. Today she drove 2 hours to the courthouse to file the motion to correct but I guess that can not be done until the case is closed which I guess is in October when they are going to hold to final hearing. To me that makes absolutely no sense.

    I guess what they ended up doing was "passing a note" to the Commissioner to see if he is willing to fix the clerical error(s)
     
  15. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    What you observed today in CA, can be observed in 49 other US states

    Yes, small claims is bread and circuses, created to satiate the thirst for revenge, absent violence.

    It is, however, entirely unsatisfying for many reasons.
    The paramount one is fewer than 5% (some argue 1%) of successful plaintiffs never collect a dollar!
     
  16. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Wait. You originally wrote:

    How do we get from that to the case not being closed due to another hearing in October.

    If you've given us bad information from the getgo you can pretty much disregard the ensuing comments as probably being useless. Garbage in, garbage out.

    Garbage in, garbage out - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Could have saved your mother the two hour trip if you had said earlier that the case wasn't closed yet and that there is another hearing in October.

    What's that hearing all about?
     
  17. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    We are aware that the actual hard part is the process of collection. She realizes that she will probably never see her items or money. You can't squeeze blood from a turnip
    The one in Oct is the Order to Show Cause RE: Compliance. You would figure that there was a way to perform one of the said actions before that hearing.
     
  18. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    If you are asking the court to compel the defendant to comply with the judgment it means you have accepted the judgment as is and a motion for correction or clarification is improper.
     
  19. KyleW

    KyleW Law Topic Starter Member

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    We are in the attempt to get the judge to possibly make a clerical change on what he wrote in the paper that was made to us.

    I understand that it is entirely up to him to make the decision to do so, and with that being said, we are hoping he will for a couple reasons:
    1. She doesn't have what the judge is ordering my mother to give back (how many times has this been said in small claims ;))
    2. If we have to return that item then my mother will not be able to get her items back which results in a judgment against the Plaintiff. But the offset between the two judgements are in favor of the Plaintiff. (Defendant judgement - Plaintiff judgement = more money for Plaintiff)
    3. The judge acknowledged during the hearing of the item my mother has and does not have but somehow on paper it got confused.
    Basically we are trying to get the judge to change what he wrote to what he said on paper.
    I think a lot of this is why I am assuming that we can at least request a change based on a clerical error (what we think is one). Because like army judge stated that this is a weird case and the judgement isn't solely monetary. If the items on both sides of the aisle do not return the physical goods then it becomes a monetary judgement against the part(y)/(ies).

    But technically we haven't asked the court to make the defendant in my mother's case compel to the judgement as of yet. I am under the understanding that that is what the Oct. hearing is for (for the most part)
     
  20. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Who filed the Order to Show Cause and on what grounds was it filed? Quote it word for word.

    Also quote the judgment word for word.

    Redact any identifying information.

    I'm flying blind here.
     

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