A judgment is an order entered on a court's docket that signifies that a plaintiff has prevailed in his case against a defendant. Most courts call the judgment an entry or order of judgment. The entry of judgment will contain the following information: the names of the plaintiff and defendant, the docket number, the date judgment was entered, and the name of the judge who approved the order. Some state courts now post information on civil cases on the Internet, which generally includes the name of the parties as well as the docket number.
Contact the civil clerk's office in the state where the judgment was entered. To obtain information about the case, you will most likely need either the docket number or the names of one of the parties to the lawsuit. Most courts store case information on computer databases, so if you know the parties, you can give this information to the clerk's office and they should be able to give you the docket number. If the state publishes court information online, you can also go to the particular court's web page and access this information.
Determine in which court the case was filed. Most state courts are divided into local District Courts and Superior Courts, each of which has jurisdiction over certain matters. For many civil actions, the particular court in which cases are filed depends on the amount of damages a plaintiff is seeking. If the Clerk's office for the local District Court doesn't have any records for the case on file, check with the clerk's office at the Superior Court.
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Give the docket number to the clerk and ask to review the court file. The file will contain all the pleadings associated with the case and will have the original entry of judgment. You can make a copy of the judgment at the clerk's office for your records.
If you reside out of state, and know either the docket number or the name of one or both of the parties, ask the clerk's office to do a search in their computer for the case file. They will be able to tell you when judgment was entered on the docket.
For a nominal fee, most civil clerks' offices will mail you a copy of the entry of judgment upon written request. In your letter make certain to include all the necessary information about the case in your letter. This would include the docket or civil action case number as well as the name of the case.
John Barron started freelancing in 2008. Barron writes articles on topics including law, business and finance for various websites. He is an attorney with over 22 years experience in all phases of civil litigation, and corporate and securities law. Barron received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and political science from Boston University and a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School.