September 20, 2014
Glossary of terms & forms

Terms

appeal
A new hearing of all of the claims by the superior court.
bank levy
Enforcement of a judgment against the judgment debtor's checking or savings account at a bank, savings association, thrift and loan, or credit union.
claim splitting
Dividing a claim and filing two lawsuits to stay below the limits on amounts of claims. Claim splitting is prohibited in most cases.
commissioner
A Small Claims Court commissioner is an attorney hired by the court to hear Small Claims Court cases.
continuance
A request to postpone a court date.
costs
Certain fees and charges a party pays to file and present a case or to enforce a judgment.
damages
Money claimed or awarded in court, equal to the dollar value of the claimant's losses.
default
When a party to the lawsuit fails to attend the small claims court hearing. If the party was properly notified of the action (served), the judge may hear and decide the case without hearing the absent party's side.
default judgment
A judgment entered when one party does not attend the small claims court hearing.
defendant
The person or business being sued.
defense
The defendant's facts or arguments that demonstrate why the plaintiff is not entitled to the relief requested.
dismiss with prejudice
To dismiss the present action, and deny the right to file another suit on that claim.
dismiss without prejudice
To dismiss the present action, but leave open the possibility of another suit on the same claim.
enforce
To put the judgment into effect by taking legal steps to bring about compliance.
good cause
A good reason. For example, a party must have good cause (better than not having a car or not being able to find a baby-sitter) for not attending the small claims court hearing.
guarantor
One who promises to be responsible for the debt or default of another.
installment payments
Weekly, monthly, or other scheduled payments on a debt.
judgment
The court's decision.
judgment creditor
The party (who may be the Plaintiff or the Defendant) in whose favor a judgment has been awarded.
judgment debtor
The party (who may be the Defendant or the Plaintiff on a defendant's claim) against whom the judgment has been entered.
jurisdictional limit
The maximum monetary amount that may be awarded by the small claims court. The limit is $5,000 or $10,000 for most claims, but a claimant cannot file more than two small claims court actions for more than $2,500 anywhere in the state during any calendar year.
keeper levy
A judgment enforcement procedure in which the levying officer takes over the operation of the judgment debtor's business for a limited duration to obtain cash and credit card receipts for payment to the judgment creditor.
mediation
A non-adversarial, out-of-court alternative used to settle disputes.
motion
A request to the court.
personal service
Service of court papers by handing a copy to the person who is served.
plaintiff
The party who files the lawsuit.
pro tem judge
An attorney who volunteers his or her time to hear and decide Small Claims Court cases. Also called a temporary judge.
process server
A person who serves court papers on a party to a suit.
service of process
Formally notifying the defendant that a suit has been filed against the defendant, made by certified mail, or by personal service, or by substituted service.
statute of limitation
The period of time following an occurrence in which a lawsuit must be filed.
substituted service
Service of process on a party by leaving the court papers with someone other than a party to the lawsuit, valid only if certain specified procedures are followed.
temporary judge
An attorney who volunteers his or her time to hear and decide Small Claims Court cases. Also called a pro tem judge.
vacate the default judgment
Getting a default judgment removed or erased.
venue
The particular court in which an action may properly be brought.
wage garnishment
A legal procedure that requires the employer of a judgment debtor to withhold a portion of the judgment debtor's wages to satisfy the judgment.
waive
To abandon or give up a claim or a right, or forgive some other requirements.
without prejudice
A term used when rights or privileges are not waived or lost. A dismissal of a lawsuit without prejudice allows a new suit to be brought on the same cause of action.

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Forms

Abstract of Judgment
A document issued by the Court Clerk. When recorded at the county recorder, it places a lien on any real property owned by the judgment debtor in that county.
Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment
A form that the judgment creditor must complete, sign, and file with the court when the judgment is fully paid.
Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs
This form allows a plaintiff to apply for and obtain a court order waiving fees and costs if the plaintiff's income falls below a fixed amount or if the plaintiff is receiving certain types of financial assistance
Civil Subpoena
An official order for a person to appear in court.
Claim of Defendant
The form filed by the defendant asserting the defendant's own claim against the plaintiff.
Claim of Exemption
A document filed by the judgment debtor that lists the property that the judgment debtor claims is exempt and that therefore cannot be taken to pay the judgment.
Judgment Debtor's Statement of Assets
The form the judgment debtor must complete and send to the judgment creditor within 30 days after receiving notice of the court's decision, listing the judgment debtor's assets and sources of income.
Notice of Entry of Judgment
A form notifying the parties of the judge's decision in the lawsuit.
Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment
A request that the court cancel a judgment that was entered and asking that a new hearing be held.
Notice of Appeal
A request for a new trial of the small claims case in the superior court.
Order to Appear for Examination
A court order instructing the judgment debtor to appear in court at a specified date and time to answer questions about his or her property and sources of income.
Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Defendant
The form that the Plaintiff fills out and files with the clerk to commence a Small Claims case. The plaintiff arranges to have the claim served upon the defendant.
Proof of Service
A form that must be completed by the person serving court papers on a party, stating that service was properly made.
Request for Dismissal
A form filed with the Small Claims Court if a settlement or agreement is made between the parties before the small claims court hearing is held, or in cases where the plaintiff wants to abandon his/her claims. The dismissal will cancel the scheduled court hearing and stop the proceeding.
Satisfaction of Judgment
See Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment.
Subpoena
An official order for a person to appear in court.
Subpoena Duces Tecum
A court order to both appear and produce specific documents in court.
Writ of Execution
Document issued by Small Claims Clerk which authorizes plaintiff to collect judgment from defendant.

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