Legal Terms


A new hearing of all of the claims by the Superior Court.


A request to postpone a court date.


Certain fees and charges a party pays to file and present a case or to enforce a judgment.


Money claimed or awarded in Court, equal to the dollar value of the claimant's losses.


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.


The person or business being sued.


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.


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.


One who promises to be responsible for the debt or default of another.

Installment Payments

Weekly, monthly, or other scheduled payments on a debt.


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 plaintiff or the defendant) 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 $2,500.


A non-adversarial, out-of-court alternative used to settle disputes.


A request to the Court.

Personal Service

Service of court papers by handing a copy to the person who is served.


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.

Vacate the Default Judgment

Getting a default judgment removed or erased.


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.


To abandon or give up a claim or a right, or forgive some other requirements.