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Judgment

JUDGMENT

A decision by a court or other tribunal that resolves a controversy and determines the rights and obligations of the parties.

A judgment is the final part of a court case. A valid judgment resolves all the contested issues and terminates the lawsuit, since it is regarded as the court's official pronouncement of the law on the action that was pending before it. It states who wins the case and what remedies the winner is awarded. Remedies may include money damages, injunctive relief, or both. A judgment also signifies the end of the court's jurisdiction in the case. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and most state rules of civil procedure allow appeals only from final judgments.

A judgment must be in writing and must clearly show that all the issues have been adjudicated. It must specifically indicate the parties for and against whom it is given. Monetary judgments must be definite, specified with certainty, and expressed in words rather than figures. Judgments affecting real property must contain an explicit description of the realty so that the land can easily be identified.

Once a court makes a judgment, it must be dated and docketed with the court administrator's office. Prior to modern computer databases, judgments were entered in a docket book, in alphabetic order, so that interested outsiders could have official notice of them. An index of judgments was prepared by the court administrator for record keeping and notification purposes. Most courts now record their judgments electronically and maintain computer docketing and index information. Though the means of storing the information are different, the basic process remains the same.

A court may amend its judgment to correct inaccuracies or ambiguities that might cause its actual intent to be misconstrued. Omissions, erroneous inclusions, and descriptions are correctable. However, persons who were not parties to the action cannot be brought into the lawsuit by an amended judgment. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow a judgment to be amended by a motion served within ten days after the judgment is entered. State rules of civil procedure also permit amendment of a judgment.

Different types of judgments are made, based on the process the court uses to make the final decision. A judgment on the merits is a decision arrived at after the facts have been presented and the court has reached a final determination of which party is correct. For example, in a negligence lawsuit that is tried to a jury, the final decision will result in a 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 party whose case is dismissed without prejudice can bring the suit again as long as the procedural errors are corrected. A party that receives a judgment on the merits is barred from relitigating the same issue by the doctrine of res judicata. This doctrine establishes the principle that an issue that is judicially decided is decided once and for all.

A summary judgment may occur very early in the process of a lawsuit. Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and analogous state rules, any party may make a motion for a summary judgment on a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim when he or she believes that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that he or she is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. A motion for summary judgment can be directed toward the entire claim or defense or toward any portion of the claim or defense. A court determines whether to grant summary judgment.

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 there was insufficient evidence to justify the jury's decision.

A consent judgment, or agreed judgment, is a final decision that is entered on agreement of the litigants. It is examined and evaluated by the court, and, if sanctioned by the court, is ordered to be recorded as a binding judgment. Consent judgments are generally rendered in domestic relations cases after the husband and wife agree to a property and support settlement in a divorce.

A default judgment results from the named 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, which forms the basis for a default judgment.

A deficiency judgment involves a creditor and a debtor. Upon a debtor's failure to pay his or her obligations, a deficiency judgment is rendered in favor of the creditor for the difference between the amount of the indebtedness and the sum derived from a judicial sale of the debtor's property held in order to repay the debt.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments

The principle of territoriality generally limits the power of a state of judicial enforcement of actions to be taken within its territory. Consequently, when a judgment is to be enforced out of property in another state, or requires some act to be done in that other state, the judgment must be brought to the judicial tribunals of the second state for implementation. This allows the judicial tribunal of the enforcing state to examine the judgment to determine whether it should be recognized and enforced.

Conditions for recognizing and enforcing a judgment of a court of another country may be established by treaty or follow general principles of international law. Under those principles, a court of one state will enforce a foreign judgment if (1) the judgment is final between the parties; (2) the court that granted the judgment was competent to do so and had jurisdiction over the parties; (3) regular proceedings were followed that allowed the losing party a chance to be heard; (4) no fraud was worked upon the first court; and (5) enforcement will not violate the public policy of the enforcing state.

Once a judgment is entered, the prevailing party may use it to collect damages. This may include placing a judgment lien on the losing party's real property, garnishing (collecting from an employer) the losing party's salary, or attaching the losing party's personal property. A judgment lien is a claim against the real estate of a party; the real estate cannot be sold until the judgment holder is paid. Attachment is the physical seizure of property owned by the losing party by a law officer, usually a sheriff, who gives the property to the person holding the judgment.

Under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, a judgment by a state court must be fully recognized and respected by every other state. For example, suppose the prevailing party in a California case knows that the defendant has assets in Arizona that could be used to pay the judgment. The prevailing party may docket the California judgment in the Arizona county court where the defendant's property is located. With the judgment now in effect in Arizona, the prevailing party may obtain a writ of execution that will authorize the sheriff in that Arizona county to seize the property to satisfy the judgment.

Once a judgment has been paid by the losing party in a lawsuit, that party is entitled to a formal discharge of the obligation, known as a satisfaction of judgment. This satisfaction is acknowledged or certified on the judgment docket.

further readings

McCarter, W. Dudley, and Christopher L. Kanzler. 2001. "Dismissal Without Prejudice: A Trap for the Unwary." Journal of the Missouri Bar 56.

Tunick, Mark. 2000. Practices and Principles: Approaches to Ethical and Legal Judgment. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press.

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"Judgment." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Judgment." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/judgment

judgment

judg·ment / ˈjəjmənt/ (also judge·ment) • n. 1. the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions: an error of judgment that is not, in my judgment, the end of the matter. ∎  an opinion or conclusion: they make subjective judgments about children's skills. ∎  a decision of a court or judge. ∎  a monetary or other obligation awarded by a court: a lower court decision upholding the $100,000 judgment. ∎  the document recording this obligation. ∎ short for Last Judgment. 2. a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment: the crash had been a judgment on the parents for wickedness. PHRASES: against one's better judgment contrary to what one believes to be wise or sensible.pass judgment (of a court or judge) give a decision concerning a defendant or legal matter: he passed judgment on the accused. ∎  criticize or condemn someone from a position of assumed moral superiority.reserve judgment delay the process of judging or giving one's opinion.sit in judgment assume the right to judge someone, esp. in a critical manner.

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"judgment." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"judgment." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/judgment

judgment

judgment, decision of a court of law respecting the issues before it. The term ordinarily is not applied to the decree (order) of courts of equity. The outstanding characteristic of a legal judgment, in contrast to an equitable decree, is its finality and fixity; thus, except for error justifying an appeal, the judgment may not be reconsidered (see jeopardy). The judgment, which in most cases of consequence follows the verdict of a jury, is the determination of the judge that the defendant is guilty or innocent of the alleged offense. If the judgment is one of criminal guilt, the court proceeds to impose sentence. In civil cases, when judgment is for the plaintiff, the court usually awards a sum as damages. The damages thereupon constitute a debt that takes priority over all other obligations of the defendant except taxes and previous judgments. If the debtor fails to pay, the sheriff, to execute the judgment, will seize and sell first his personal property and then his realty. The sheriff may also garnish monies owed to the defendant, e.g., his wages (see garnishment). Certain property of the debtor is exempt from seizure, including clothing, equipment needed to carry on his trade or profession, and the family homestead. In some jurisdictions a defendant who willfully refuses to pay a judgment may be punished for contempt of court. A judgment rendered by the courts of one state is entitled to recognition by the courts of all other states.

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"judgment." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"judgment." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/judgment

Judgment Day

Judgment Day or Doomsday, central point of early Christian, Jewish, and Islamic eschatology, sometimes called the Day of the Lord. References to it throughout the Bible are numerous. The Christian belief in the Last Judgment asserts that this world will end, the dead will be raised up in the general resurrection, and God, or his agent, will gloriously come to judge the living and the dead. The sinners shall be cast into hell, and the righteous shall live in heaven. These concepts are also common themes in early Jewish apocalyptic speculation. No generally accepted Christian teaching pronounces when Judgment Day shall occur, but many individuals have prophesied its date. Doomsday believers are called chiliasts, millenarians, or, specifically, Adventists. See also Antichrist; Armageddon; millennium; apocalypse. The Last Judgment also figures in the Qur'an.

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