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The operation of the intellect by which something is affirmed or denied of something else or, less properly but frequently, the internal complex expression or proposition formed by the intellect in judging. Etymologically the word is from the medieval Latin judicamentum, like the classical judicium, meaning the act of a judge (judex ) in deciding a question of law or right (jus ) or in passing sentence. From this the term was extended to moral decisions about right and wrong, to practical estimates and evaluations, and then to the act of deciding about the truth or falsity of a proposition or of making any affirmation or denial (cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae 2a2ae, 60.1 ad 1). This article presents a historical survey of the notion, an explanation of the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas, and a discussion of divergent views in light of that doctrine.

Historical Survey

The philosophical development of the concept of judgment falls naturally into three stages corresponding to the development of ancient philosophy, of scholastic philosophy, and of modern philosophy.

Ancient Philosophy. plato has no explicit doctrine of an intellectual operation distinct from direct apprehension

but he does speak of an act or faculty of decision, of assessing or evaluating (κρίσις), not only in matters of action and prudence but also in regard to fact and truth (Rep. 582AD; Theaet. 201B; Gorg. 526C; Leges 658A, 950B). "Opinion" (δόξα), in his usage, has some of the meaning of judgment. It is an intellectual act, as opposed to sensation (ασθησις), and connotes belief or assent. It may mean an assessment of what is, and thus be true or false (Rep. 478B; Theaet. 201AB; Soph. 263A264B; Meno 97B, 98C).

aristotle expressly distinguishes two operations of the intellect on the basis of their objects. The first is "the understanding of indivisibles," or "simples," i.e., of single uncompounded terms or intelligible contents; in this the question of truth or falsity does not arise. The second is a certain association of intelligible contents separately apprehended, which will necessarily be either true or false (Anim. 430a 25-b5; Interp. 16a 13; Meta. 1027b 1723, 1051b 226, 3335).

The Stoics devoted much discussion to judgment and the proposition (ξίωμα), which they defined as a complete utterance that is either true or false (Diogenes Laertius, Lives 7.6566; Cicero, Tusc. 1.7.14, De fato 10.20): Truth and error, they held, do not belong to disconnected notions but to notions combined in a judgment. Yet it is

not the simple combination of concepts that they stress but assent. Judgment is basically the referring of an image received in sensation to an external thing. Though there are some irresistible perceptions, which clearly and distinctly represent a real thing as it really is and constitute the criterion of truth (Sextus Empiricus, C. math. 7.244; Cicero, Acad. 2.12.3738, 1.11.41; Diogenes, Lives 7.51), nevertheless assent is usually in man's power and thus voluntary (Sextus, C. math. 8.397; Cicero, Acad. 1.14.40, 2.12.37; De fato 19.43). see stoicism.

Scholastic Philosophy. In the Middle Ages the general lines of Aristotle's doctrine were commonly followed. Judgment was referred to as the second operation of the intellect or as compositio et divisio. Varying degrees of emphasis were put upon the compositive, the assentient, and the existential aspects. (For the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas see below.)

In later scholasticism, ferrariensis, interpreting St. Thomas, taught that judgment is in a certain way a reflective act since it implies the comparison of a quiddity apprehended by the intellect with the thing about which it is apprehended, and the pronouncement of conformity or disconformity (In C. gent. 1.59.6). F. suÁrez denied that judgment is reflexive and held that the direct act that constitutes it has two aspects that are not really distinct operations: the combination of two previously apprehended terms and the acceptance of this combination as representative of the thing (De anim. 3.6.34). john of st. thomas maintained that the operations of forming the proposition and of assenting to it as true of the thing are distinct and that the latter is judgment taken formally (Phil. nat. 11.3 ad 2).

Modern Philosophy. R. descartes too emphasized the aspect of assent. Holding with the supposedly traditional view that judgment consists in the affirmation or denial of one idea or another and that only here are truth and error found, he nevertheless insisted that this is more than the perception of a relationship between concepts: it is an activity of accepting and approving the association made; and because all activity depends upon the will, the assent of judgment is voluntary and free and is, in fact, an act of the will rather than of the intellect (Princ. phil. 1.32, 34, 6; Med. 4).

T. hobbes took a nominalistic view of judgment, regarding it as the joining of two names that belong to the same thing (Leviathan 1.7; cf. 1.5). Truth is merely "the right ordering of names in our affirmations" (1.4).

J. locke paid much more attention to the association of ideas than to affirmation or negation. For him, knowledge is "nothing but the perception of the connexion and agreement or disagreement and repugnancy of any of our ideas" (Essay Concerning Human Understanding 4.1.2). Knowledge is certain. Judgment is of the same character except that it is sometimes contrasted with knowledge as being only probable or presumed perception (4.14.34;4.6.13).

D. hume too was concerned more with the association of ideas than with judgment as such. For him, "ideas" are only faint images left by sensory impressions (Treatise of Human Nature 1.1.1). In an important note on the Treatise he finds fault with the traditional division of the operations of the mind into conception, judgment, and reasoning and says that these operations "all resolve themselves into the first," which is conception or simple apprehension (1.3.1 n).

T. reid rejected the "ideal system"the doctrine of ideas as substitutes for thingsof Descartes, Locke, and Hume. Though he agreed with Hume in rejecting the traditional "division of the powers of the mind" (Essays on the Intellectual Powers 1.7), rather than reduce judgment to simple apprehension he made judgment come first. Sensation, taken absolutely, is held to be "necessarily accompanied by a belief in its present existence." Simple apprehension is defined as "a sensation imagined or thought of" (Inquiry into the Human Mind 2.3). Because "sensation must go before memory and imagination," he argues that "it necessarily follows that apprehension accompanied with belief and knowledge must go before simple apprehension , so that here, instead of saying that the belief or knowledge is got by putting together and comparing the simple apprehensions, we ought rather to say that simple apprehension is performed by resolving and analyzing a natural and original judgment" (ibid. 2.4).

Though the point is not clear in I. kant, there are indications that he too considers judgment to precede apprehension or conception. Understanding is the awareness of a unity (Critique of Pure Reason B8990) and is primarily or essentially judging (B9394, 141). This must be done by means of concepts, and the basic concepts or categories are derived from the forms of judgment (B94, 378). Kant even asserts that distinct concepts presuppose judgment just as complete concepts presuppose ratiocination. This leaves the possibility, however, that at least indistinct concepts do not come after judgment but that judgment and concepts arise together, one being impossible without the other. The division of "judgments" from which Kant derives the categories more properly belongs to a study of propositions. But there is a twofold prior division that belongs to the very manner of judging. Judgments are a posteriori if derived from experience and a priori if independent of experience (B12). They are analytic when the predicate is contained in the concept of the subject and synthetic when the predicate adds to the subject something not contained in its concept (B1011). Kant's theoretical doctrine is devoted chiefly to examining how a priori synthetic judgments are possible (B1424).

Reacting against the opinion of judgment as a mere association of images or ideas, which he thought to be almost universally held, F. brentano distinguished between representation and acceptance or assent [Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis, ed. O. Kraus (Hamburg 1955) 1516]. And he interprets the "is" of all propositions as expressing directly actual existence [Von der Klassification der psychischen Phänomene (Leipzig 1911) 5363].

Doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas

The doctrine of St. thomas aquinas on judgment may be exposed in terms of his teaching on composition through comparison, on the distinct function of terms, on the affirmation of concrete existence, and on truth and falsity.

Composition Through Comparison. Judgment is commonly referred to by St. Thomas as compositio et divisio, combining and separating (In 3 anim. 11.746747; In 6 meta. 4.1232; In Boeth. de Trin. 5.3; In 1 anal. post. 1.4 ). By it the natures apprehended in the first operation are associated or dissociated (In 1 perih. 1.34). This second operation would not be needed were it not for the imperfection of man's simple apprehension, which is abstractive, attaining only a single partial aspect of the thing at a time (Summa theologiae 1a, 58.4;C. gent. 1.58, 2.98; De ver. 8.4 ad 5). Common intelligible traits are grasped without the individualized subject in which they are found (Summa theologiae 1a, 85.1,12.4; In 2 anim. 12.377); the nature is first known only confusedly and indeterminately, i.e., generically, without its specific characteristic (Summa theologiae 1a, 85.3,14.6; In 1 phys. 1.7; C. gent. 2.98); the substantial nature is known without the accidents (Summa theologiae 1a, 85.5; In 7 meta., 5.1379; De ver. 2.7); the accidents are grasped separately (In 2 phys. 3.5; In 1 perih. 10.4); and the quiddity, or essence, is understood without the particular act of existing (esse ) that it has in reality (De ente 3; Quodl. 8.1).

To know the thing as it is in reality, a single whole, one and concretely existing, one must have an operation that reintegrates the intelligible aspects of the thing and signifies it as existing. This requires a comparison, the establishment of a relation, which is the unity of its terms. Correlatives are known together (C. gent. 1.55; In 4 sent. ad 3; De pot. 7.10 ad 4; De ver. 2.3 sed. contra 2). So when the data of apprehension are seen to be related, they are seen as one (De ver. 13.3; Summa theologiae 1a, 58.2; Quodl. 7.2). This comparison is judgment, "combination and separation." As an operation it is always a combination or composition, though from the standpoint of the apprehended natures it is either composition or separation according as they are perceived to belong together or not (In 1 perih. 3.4). Composition is a form of union (De ver. 2.7 ad 3; De pot. 7.1 ad 10) by which distinct things are made one. By the compositive act of the intellect the various yields of apprehension are united into a single intelligible whole (In 3 anim. 11.747; In 6 meta. 4.1241; In 3 sent.; De ver. 8.14; Summa theologiae 1a, 58.2). By judging and forming a proposition the intellect restores natures to subjects and accidents to substances (De ver. 2.7; Summa theologiae 1a, 14.14, 85.5), thus reestablishing the condition in which things exist (In 3 sent. 27.1.1 ad 5).

Distinct Function of Terms. The two elements joined in judgment do not stand on the same footing and perform the same function. One, which represents the thing to be understood (and stands as the subject in the proposition formed), is regarded as determinable in human thought; the other, which signifies what one understands about the thing (and stands as the predicate in the proposition), is determining. The two elements are therefore related as material and formal principles respectively (In 9 meta. 11.1898; In 1 perih. 8.11, 10.23; De ver. 8.14 ad 6; Summa theologiae 1a, 16.2; 3a, 16.7 ad 4, 9 ad 3). The hylomorphic composition of the proposition represents the real composition or unity of the thing known and the condition in which it exists.

When the apprehended aspects of the thing are connected in their very notions or essence, the judgment is per se, or essential. When the connection is not essential but only factual or existential, the judgment is per accidens, or accidental (In 1 anal. post. 13.2, 10.27, 33.49; In 5 meta. 9.886888; In 4 meta. 2.548, 554; 7.622635; De pot. 8.2 ad 6, 9.4; In 1 perih. 5.9; De fallaciis 10). In the latter case the connection must be perceived through the senses. In the former, though the notions are abstracted from sense representations, the connection itself is intelligible, and knowledge of it does not depend upon this presentation.

Because in judging one says that the subject is the predicate, he establishes an identity between them (In 5 meta. 11.908; Summa theologiae 1a, 85.5 ad 3). The kind of identity, however, is not the same in essential and in accidental judgments. In those that are essential the identity is formal (In 3 sent. 11.1.4 ad 6); that is, the two intelligibilities are grasped as being in whole or in part the same (ibid.; De ente 2; In 7 meta. 2.1288,3.1328; De pot. 8.4 ad 2). In accidental judgments the identity, being only factual, is merely an identity in subject or supposit (In 3 sent. 22.1.2, 11.1.4 ad 6, 12.1.1 ad 6; Summa theologiae 1a, 85.5 ad 3), for the thing apprehended in the subject and in the predicate is the same (De pot. 8.2 ad 6). This identity in the thing is signified by the verbal composition (C. gent. 1.36). The unity of the thing founds the composition made in understanding (ibid.; De ente 3 ). The judgment, accordingly, by combining a subject and a predicate distinguished in apprehension, signifies a real unity and a rational diversity (Summa theologiae 1a, 13.12; C. gent. 1.36).

Affirmation of Concrete Existence. Just as the real existence of a composite being results from the composition of its elements (De pot. 7.1; In 9 meta. 11.1903; In 1 sent. 23.1.1, 38.1.3), so the existence will be signified in thought when a corresponding composition of the apprehended elements is effected in judging. Consequently, the second operation is concerned with the existence of the thing, whereas the first operation is concerned with its essence (In Boeth. de Trin. 5.3; In 1 sent. 19.5.1 ad 7,38.1.3). This does not mean that apprehension has no reference to existence (for the essence is the manner in which existence is exercised) or that every judgment is directly a judgment of existence (for in an attributive judgment the direct intent is to assign an attribute). But the verb "to be" that is used to effect the composition, and is called the copula (In 9 meta. 11.1900; In 5 meta. 9.895896; Quodl. 9.3; C. gent. 1.12; In 1 sent. 33.1.1 ad 1; De nat. gen. 2), even when attributive, retains the meaning of existence. For the subject is said to exist in the way signified by the predicate. "This paper is white" means "This paper exists in a white way." The predicate signifies a form had by the subject; form is the principle of existence; and for each form had there is an act of existing (In Boeth. de hebdom. 2.27; Summa theologiae 1a, 75.6, 42.1 ad 1; De prin. nat. 2). "To be" is the ultimate act of things and the act in which composite beings have their reality. The verb "to be" used without qualification signifies only actual existence; but it also, when followed by an attribute, signifies composition, because it signifies existence with the form attributed (In 1 perih. 5.22, 9.4). It need not, however, always signify existence in the real order (outside the mind); it suffices that it signify the type of existence appropriate to the subject, for truth is fulfilled in the mind (In 1 sent. 19.5.1 and ad 5).

Truth and Falsity. Because judgment signifies existence, it always involves truth or falsity (In 3 anim. 11.748, 760; In 6 meta. 4.1224, 1225, 1227, 1236; In 1 perih. 3.2, 6.9). For "true" means that what is is, and that what is not is not; and "false" means just the reverse (In 4 meta. 17.740, 736; 16.721; C. gent. 1.59, 62). And it is in judging that one says that something is or is not, is so or is not so. For not only is something known about a thing, but it is also applied to the thing, setting up a relation or comparison between one's knowledge and the thing (C. gent. 1.59). When an intelligible character is apprehended about some thing, the intellect, being spiritual and self-luminous, is conscious of its act of apprehending and of its reference to the object; it thereby knows the conformity of its concept (used as the predicate in judging) to the thing (De ver. 1.9; In 3 sent. 23.1.2 ad 3; In 1 perih. 3.6, 9; In 6 meta. 4.1236). The judgment made contains implicitly the affirmation that the thing is as the intellect has conceived it. Thus there is here the known conformity required for formal truth (In 1 perih. 3. 6, 9; Summa theologiae 1a, 16.2; In 1 sent. 19.5.2).

Judgment accordingly implies assent, which is adherence to a proposition as true (De ver. 14.1). By expressing the "is" (or "is not") of judgment man commits himself to the truth or falsity of the composition he makes, and in this his knowledge is completed (C. gent. 1.59).

Discussion of Divergent Views

The diversity of views mentioned in the historical survey may now be discussed in terms of the doctrine of St. Thomas. This is done in three stages, the first treating views in modern philosophy; the second, disputes in scholastic philosophy; and the third, the special theory of Brentano.

Modern Views. The view that judgment is a mere association of ideas arises in Locke and Hume largely from their empiricism and their inadequate distinction of "ideas" from sensory images and impressions, along with their psychologism and their rather automatic view of the association of images. Hobbes's association of names rests on a similar empiricist basis. The genuine intellectual nature of judgment is obscured, if not denied; judgment is deprived of its distinctive feature: the conscious reference of the representations of things to the things they represent; assent is slighted; and the relevance of truth and falsity to judgment is made accidental. This is especially evident in Hume's reduction of judgment to simple apprehension. (see empiricism; psychologism.)

Reid's interpretation of judgment as preceding apprehension, while taking account of assent and identifying judgment with it, is possible only because, retaining a strong empiricism, he makes assent consist in a mere acceptance of sense impressions. Assent thus appears not to be an intellectual activity at all, and judgment implies no reflection upon a concept formed and reference back to the real.

Kant, in seeming to make judgment anterior to conception, overlooks the necessity of first deriving from the thing known some intelligible character or nature and then referring it to the thing. And even within his system it is hard to see how there can be any conscious subsumption of phenomena organized in sensibility under a mental form of synthesis unless that form is in some sense preconceived.

In holding that all assent in judgment is an act of the will and is free (thus going even beyond the Stoics), Descartes excessively generalized a very true observation: many of a person's judgments are in fact free. This is true of all judgment based upon testimony, whether human or divine, because the evidence is only extrinsic and not found in the proposition itself to which assent is given. It is true also in judgments in which the evidence had is insufficient or less than compelling, as in opinionative judgments. In judgments in which the evidence is sufficient, a distinction must be made. When the evidence is mediate and the judgment is made as a result of reasoning, the judgment, and the assent, is free as regards the exercise of the act (i.e., carrying out the reasoning process or not), but not, if the reasoning is actually done, as regards "the object," i.e., the conclusion (Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 17.6). For the process, with the mediate evidence that it brings, is compelling. It is in this latter sense that St. Thomas says that the assent of science is not subject to free choice (Summa theologiae 2a2ae, 2.9 ad 2). In regard to immediate evidence, as is had in first principles, assent is necessary not only as regards the object but even as regards the exercise if the intellect is used at all (Summa theologiae 1a, 82.2; 1a2ae, 17.6), for these principles are implicit in every judgment that is made (In 4 meta. 6.605).

Scholastic Disputes. In the dispute involving Ferrariensis, Suárez, and John of St. Thomas, Suárez correctly rejected any reflex act as the initial act of reason; for a reflex act always presupposes an antecedent direct act. But he incorrectly attributed the rejected view to Ferrariensis, who did not place assent in reflex judgments but rather in direct judgments, which nevertheless imply and suppose a reflection upon the apprehension of the predicate. Nor did Suárez, in holding that judgment consists primarily in the conjunction of concepts, deny or exclude assent. He says that the composition is made by "passing judgment." But what judgment is passed upon, in his view, is the fact that one concept belongs to the other. This does not sufficiently explain why the conjunction is made and neglects reference to the thing of which the concepts are formed. The distinction made by John of St. Thomas (in opposition to this view of Suárez) between the formation of the proposition (or the recognition of the composition) and assent to it as two really distinct acts requires some qualification. When a proposition is proposed by another, it is true that one first recognizes the proposition before assenting to it. But when one forms a proposition oneself, the assent is not distinct from the formation of the proposition. For the proposition is not formed until one places the "is" or "is not" of the copula; and when one places these, by that very fact he assents to the truth of the proposition. One does admittedly form questions without assenting. But a question is not a proposition in the technical sense any more than an interrogative sentence is declarative. A proposition is declarative or assertive; it is an assertion, a statement, an enunciation; and this implies commitment and assent.

A more recent dispute is that among contemporary Thomists on the role of judgment in the knowledge of existence. Taking the statement of St. Thomas that simple apprehension deals with essence and judgment with existence, some of his followers have held that existence is known only in judgment and that there is no concept of existence [É. Gilson, Being and Some Philosophers (2d ed. Toronto 1952); R. J. Henle, "Existentialism and Judgment," American Catholic Philosophical Association. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting 21 (Baltimore 1946) 4051]. Others have disputed this, holding that existence is known in simple apprehension and in a concept, even though the knowledge is completed and the existence is joined with its subject in judgment [L. M. Régis, "Gilson's Being and Some Philosophers, " The Modern Schoolman 28 (St. Louis 195051) 111125]. Still others have held that, though a judgment of existence precedes the concept of existence, a concept is formed in an indirect way, in which it is treated somewhat as if it were an essence (J. Maritain, Existence and the Existent, New York 1949). The words of St. Thomas can also be taken to mean that existence is not expressly signified in the simple apprehension of things, as it is in judgment, though it is implicitly connoted.

Brentano's Theory. Finally, Brentano's contention that every proposition, because it expresses or implies "is," is existential correctly calls attention to the fact that existence is signified in every judgment; but it exaggerates in supposing that the existence signified is always real and actual and that the direct intent of the judgment is always to signify existence unqualified. This clearly does not fit the case when the subject is a logical being, as in the judgment that "a syllogism is made up of three propositions"; for a syllogism cannot have real existence. And even when the subject designates a real being but is taken universally and the proposition is attributive, this interpretation is inapplicable; for example, "Man is a social being." Here, though the existence in question is real rather than logical, it is not the actual existence of man or of men but the possible or hypothetical existence that is meant: "If man exists, then man is social." And the direct intent of this proposition is not to affirm existence but to assign an attribute. It is not the bare fact of existing that is primarily meant but rather the manner in which the existence, if had, is exercised. Directly existential judgments are rather rarely made; for it is only when the existence of something is doubtful or brought into question that one stops to affirm it explicitly.

See Also: understanding (intellectus); knowledge, connatural; knowledge, process of.

Bibliography: m. j. adler, ed., The Great Ideas: A Syntopicon of Great Books of the Western World, 2 v. (Chicago 1952); v.2, 3 of Great Books of the Western World 1:835849. p. h. j. hoenen, Reality and Judgment According to St. Thomas, tr. h. f. tiblier (Chicago 1952). f. h. parker and h. b. veatch, Logic as a Human Instrument (New York 1959). r. w. schmidt, "Judgment and Predication in a Realistic Philosophy," The New Scholasticism 29 (Washington 1955) 318326. f. m. tyrrell, "Concerning the Nature and the Function of the Act of Judgment," ibid. 26 (1952) 393423. j. lebacqz, "Apprehension or Assent?" Heythrop Journal 5 (Oxford 1964) 3657. f. a. cunningham, "Judgment in St. Thomas," The Modern Schoolman 31 (1954) 185212.

[r. w. schmidt]


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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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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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The judgment of a court is its conclusion or sentence of the law applied to the facts of a case. It is the court's final determination of the rights of the parties to the case. A judgment, once entered (unless successfully appealed), is conclusive as to the rights of the parties and ordinarily may not be challenged either in a future suit by the same parties or in a collateral proceeding. The judgment is essentially equivalent to the decision of the court. Judgments in equity and admiralty cases are called "decrees"; judgments in criminal and ecclesiastical cases are called "sentences."

Dennis J. Mahoney

(see also: Final Judgment Rule; Habeas Corpus; Res Judicata.)


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Judgment ★★★ 1990 (PG-13)

A devout Catholic couple are shocked to learn that their young son has been molested by the popular priest of their small Louisiana parish. When they find out their son is not the first victim, and other families have been coerced into silence, they vow to fight back. Tasteful treatment of a real court case. 89m/C VHS, DVD . Keith Carradine, Blythe Danner, Jack Warden, David Strathairn, Bob Gunton, Mitchell Ryan, Michael Faustino; D: Tom Topor; W: Tom Topor. CABLE

Judgment Day

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Judg·ment Day • n. the time of the Last Judgment; the end of the world.

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