After the hearing there is a 30-day period, called an automatic stay, in which parties have various options for responding to the outcome of the hearing. These options include either an appeal or a motion to vacate.
The prevailing party must wait 30 days from the date of the mailing of the entry of judgment before beginning enforcement proceedings. During this 30-day period, the opposing party has a right to appeal. If the opposing party was not present at the small claims hearing, he or she has no right to appeal, but may file a motion to vacate.
Only the defendant, or the plaintiff on a defendant’s claim, has a right to appeal. The appeal must be filed within 30 days from the date of the mailing of entry of judgment. An appeal is a new hearing that includes the claims of all parties to the case. To file an appeal, request a Notice of Appeal from the Small Claims Division. Fill out the form and pay the correct fee. The appeal will be scheduled and all parties will be notified by mail of the appeal hearing date.
A small claims appeal is called a Trial De Novo. A de novo hearing means the appeal court will hear the case without regard to what happened at the first hearing. An attorney may represent any party at the appeal hearing. Judgment on appeal is final.
If you did not appear at the first hearing and judgment was entered against you, you may file a Motion to Vacate. If you were served with the notice of the claim, the motion to vacate must be filed within 30 days of the mailing of entry of judgment. If you did not receive any notice of the claim, you must file the motion to vacate within 180 days of discovery that judgment was entered against you. There is a fee to file a motion to vacate.
At the motion to vacate hearing, you must explain to the court why you were not at the first hearing. You cannot argue the facts of the underlying case unless your motion is granted and all parties are present and agree to have the case heard at that time. If the motion to vacate is granted and all parties are not present, the case will be continued.
If the motion to vacate is denied, you have 10 days to appeal the denial. This appeal is not an appeal of the underlying case, it is only an appeal of the denial of the motion to vacate. A plaintiff bringing a motion to vacate has no right to appeal if the motion is denied.