Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 20, 2013

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A ruling in your favor by judge or jury in a civil case does not necessarily end the lawsuit. Once a ruling is handed down, the losing party has a right to appeal. The loser must file a written notice of appeal generally within 30 days of the ruling. If this happens, the case goes to an appellate court for review. If a case goes to an appellate court, the underlying facts of the case are not retried. Instead, the appellate court looks for errors in the finding of facts or the application of the law by the trial court. If it finds errors, the appellate court can return the case to the trial court to have the errors corrected or it can dismiss the case altogether. If it finds no errors, the appellate court will enter the judgment as rendered by the trial court.

What takes place after the appeal process?                 

Once the appeal process has ended, the judgment becomes final. If you are the defendant and you won, no further action will be taken against you. If you are the plaintiff and you won a monetary award, you have a right to have the judgment satisfied. You can try to settle the judgment with the defendant by having him pay you the money you are due. If he does so, you then will file a formal written satisfaction of judgment notice with the court.

What if the defendant refuses to settle the judgment?

In the event the defendant refuses to settle the judgment, you have the right to execute it. Execution of the judgment is a way of collecting the money from the defendant even when the defendant is unwilling to pay. To do so, you file a written request for satisfaction of the judgment with the court. In this case, the court will issue a writ of execution to the sheriff or other authority in your area to allow the seizure of the defendant’s property in order to satisfy the judgment.

What forms of property may be used to satisfy the judgment?                                                               

Property subject to seizure in order to satisfy a judgment can include personal property such as bank accounts and even automobiles and other belongings of the defendant, although these items are generally not desirable due to their limited value. Real estate cannot be seized by a judgment creditor. However, it can have a lien placed against it so that when it is sold, proceeds from the sale can be used to satisfy the judgment. Sometimes, the fact that there is a lien on the real estate of the defendant will cause problems, such as preventing the defendant from refinancing their mortgage, which may prompt the defendant to pay the amount owed.