4 Types of Judgments: Do You Know the Differences?


Civil court cases are resolved through judgements. This is vastly different from criminal court, where a verdict of guilty or not guilty is usually rendered. It is also worth noting that where criminal courts enforce convictions by way of sentencing, civil courts rarely get involved in enforcing judgments.

Courts typically render one of four different types of civil judgments. Each type comes with its own unique details. However, the one thing they all have in common is the need to enforce after the fact. Enforcement can be a matter of collecting a monetary award, compelling the defendant to change an action or a behavior, or a combination of both.

When a judgment includes a monetary award, creditors can either collect on their own, bring in an attorney, or hire a collection agency like Salt Lake City’s judgmentcollectors.com . Agencies specializing exclusively in judgment collection are the most qualified to handle the job. With all of that said, let’s move onto the four types of judgments.

1. Summary Judgment

A summary judgment is a judgment entered without a trial. There are several mechanisms through which such a judgment can be triggered. The first is a case in which neither party disputes the facts. Because the two parties agree on the facts, no trial is necessary to sort things out.

A second way to trigger a summary judgment is for the defendant to offer an inadequate defense. A court can determine that a weak defense renders a trial moot, thereby bypassing the trial with a summary judgment. Doing so saves time and aggravation.

Finally, a summary judgment can be triggered when the facts of the case are known and based on some prior law or decision that is considered settled law. A trial would not change that settled law, rendering it unnecessary to reach a sound decision.

2. Default Judgment

A default judgment is the result of the defendant not cooperating with the legal process. It can be triggered by the defendant’s failure to respond to the original lawsuit service. It can also be triggered by the defendant failing to show up for court on the trial date. A default judgment is awarded in favor of the plaintiff solely because the defendant didn’t participate.

3. Judgment Notwithstanding a Verdict

The third type of judgment is a curious one. Known as a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, it is a judgment that more or less overrides a jury’s previous decision. Let’s say a jury finds in favor of the defendant but the judge assigned to the case believes the evidence to support that decision is inadequate. He renders a new judgment to overturn the jury’s decision.

These types of judgments are the exception to the rule. When they do occur, there is almost always sufficient reason for the losing party to appeal.

4. Consent Judgment

The fourth and final type of judgment is the consent judgment. This is a judgment entered when the parties want to settle out of court. Settlements avoid trials, but they still need to be approved by judges. So once a settlement is reached, attorneys for the two parties ask for a consent judgment.

Consent judgments are actually pretty common. The two parties in a civil case often conclude that it’s better to settle than having to go through a formal trial. I would guess that judges appreciate consent summaries as well because they free up valuable docket space for other cases that need to go to trial.

So there you have the four different types of civil judgments. Did you learn anything new?

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