District Court Department
I WON MY SMALL CLAIM BEFORE THE MAGISTRATE.
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
If you were sued by the other party and won, the other party may not appeal from the magistrate’s decision on that claim against you.
If you sued the other party and won and the magistrate awarded you money, you cannot collect the money until the time for appeal ends or until the appeal is decided. If there is no appeal, or if you win again on appeal, here are some steps you may take to collect your money:
A. Ask for payment
Ask the other party (the "Judgment Debtor") to pay the money or to turn over the property, as ordered by the magistrate.
B. Payment hearing
If the magistrate has scheduled a payment hearing and the Judgment Debtor does not pay the money before that hearing, the magistrate will examine the Judgment Debtor’s ability to pay the money, and may order immediate payment or a payment plan. At that hearing, the burden is on you to prove that the Judgment Debtor is able to pay without using income that is exempt by law. You may examine his or her "Financial Statement of Judgment Debtor" form, and present any information to the magistrate that is relevant to the Judgment Debtor’s ability to pay. If the magistrate determines that the Judgment Debtor is not financially able to pay any money now, you may ask the magistrate to schedule the matter for review on some future date. Certain income is exempt from any payment order of the court. To see a list of exempt income, click here. Any order of the court for payment will not include the defendant’s income derived from these sources. It is possible that a person who has exempt income may also receive wages from employment which could be subject to a payment order.
Even if a person is currently unable to pay, a judgment is enforceable for 20 years if that person's financial condition improves during that time.
C. Notice to show cause
If the magistrate has not scheduled a payment hearing and the Judgment Debtor does not pay the money, ask the clerk’s office to issue to you a "Notice to Show Cause," requiring the Judgment Debtor to appear before the court. You must be in court on that date. You must pay a fee to a municipal constable or a county deputy sheriff to serve this form on the Judgment Debtor, but that amount will be added to what the Judgment Debtor owes.
D. Capias (civil arrest warrant)
If the Judgment Debtor does not appear at the payment hearing as ordered or after being served with a "Notice to Show Cause," ask the clerk-magistrate’s office to issue to you a "Capias" (a civil arrest warrant) for the Judgment Debtor. You must pay a fee to a constable or a deputy sheriff to arrest the Judgment Debtor and bring him or her to court, but that amount will be added to what the Judgment Debtor owes. Give the constable or deputy sheriff your daytime telephone number, and ask him or her to contact you when the Judgment Debtor is brought to court.
E. Writ of execution
If you can identify any valuable property of the Judgment Debtor (real estate, motor vehicles, etc.) that could be taken and sold to pay your judgment, after the payment hearing ask the clerk's office to issue to you a "Writ of Execution." If no payment hearing was scheduled, you may ask for a Writ of Execution 30 days after the judgment date. You must give the Writ of Execution to a constable or a deputy sheriff to seize and sell property of the Judgment Debtor to pay the judgment. Many of a person’s assets may be seized and sold to satisfy a judgment even if that person has exempt income.
YOU MUST NOTIFY THE COURT WHEN YOU HAVE RECEIVED FULL PAYMENT
You must notify the clerk’s office in writing within 10 days after you have collected the full amount of the judgment. You may use the court’s “Satisfaction of Judgment” form (available here) or “Satisfaction of Judgment on Counterclaim” form (available here) for that purpose. You are not required to use any particular form but you should include the court’s docket number in your notification.