I don't want to stay in the unit in fact I've already moved, but I want to appeal the amount awarded by the Magistrate in a higher court. Do I have to pay to appeal? I read that I could appeal and just pay the court costs if I don't want to stay in the unit, but the clerks today at the Dekalb magistrate courthouse would not take my fee to appeal to state court without paying the Magistrate's rental judgement that I am disputing in the registry. What can I do? I only have 7 days to appeal.Looks like we have two lawyers that are contradicting each other on this answer. I thought all lawyers practiced the same law, however I guess contradictions are why there is always two lawyers against each other in the courtroom.
An appeal of Magistrate Court would go to the State Court.
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You are not required to pay the judgment amount or rent going forward in the appeal unless you intend to maintain possession of the property. The clerks told you wrong.
"§ 44-7-56. Appeal; possession and payment of rent pending appeal
Any judgment by the trial court shall be appealable pursuant to Chapters 2, 3, 6, and 7 of Title 5, provided that any such appeal shall be filed within seven days of the date such judgment was entered and provided, further, that, after the notice of appeal is filed with the clerk of the trial court, the clerk shall immediately notify the trial judge of the notice of appeal and the trial judge may, within 15 days, supplement the record with findings of fact and conclusions of law which will be considered as a part of the order of the judge in that case. If the judgment of the trial court is against the tenant and the tenant appeals this judgment, the tenant shall be required to pay into the registry of the court all sums found by the trial court to be due for rent in order to remain in possession of the premises. The tenant shall also be required to pay all future rent as it becomes due into the registry of the trial court pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of Code Section 44-7-54 until the issue has been finally determined on appeal."
But the bigger picture is whether you have any real chance of prevailing in State or Superior Court. Those courts are "formal" courts, not "informal" like magistrate court. To try and litigate in a formal court without a lawyer is nearly doomed to failure. You may find yourself ordered to pay more as a result of the appeal and if they get a lawyer, you may be ordered to pay their attorney's fees. How much is the judgment for? How much do you believe it should be for? If nothing else take advantage of a free telephone consultation, which most lawyers will give you.
Good question. Let's see what we can glean from your statement.
Based on the facts you pose, the Clerk at the Magistrate Court is correct. After an adverse verdict by the Judge against you, you much first put up a bond or sufficient security to cover the original judgment amount in order to file an appeal.
While it is unpleasant to contemplate having to first cover the original judgment amount, the other party (the apartment or rental homeowner who sued you) has a reasonable expectation that they will be paid the judgment. That is why the Clerk told you to pay the judgment or put up security before you can file an appeal to; most-likely, the State Court of DeKalb County.
Even if you manage to put up the secuity money, you would have to file a Notice of Appeal to the higher court and pay all court costs to have the case removed to the State Court.
Assuming you get your appeal and are now in state court. The money you first owed could be "chicken feed", compared to what an attorney would charge you to handle the case for you.
If you decide to be your own lawyer, remember the old maxim; you will "have a fool for a lawyer", as you do not know the practice and procedures of the State Court. Judges don't favor "pro se" cases as it wastes a lot of the Judge's valuable time and the County's financial resources.
The other side will demand a jury trial most-likely, and you will face 6 to 12 people who don't know you, may not like you, and will be aware that the Magistrate Judge has already ruled against you and in favor of the other party. If you lose in State Court, you will owe the money plus interest, and maybe the other party's attorney's fees and costs.
Staying "in the unit" is a moot question at this juncture. You have a valid judgment against you which is due and payable; notwithstanding that you no longer live in the unit.
Just moving out of the unit may trigger a default on your part under any lease you may have signed with the landlord. At that point, all sums for past and current rent are due and payable, and your deposit is forfeited as "liquidated damages".
I would suggest, if the amount is not substantial, that you "bite the bullet" and pay up. That isn't what you wanted to hear as advice, but lawyers have to be realistic in telling their clients what the score really is. If the amount IS substantial, arrange with the attorneys for the landlord to start a payment plan (which may include some interest for allowing the pay-back to be spread out over a period of time) that you can live with. Remember that everything in life is negotiable; and the landlord would probably be amenable to your paying on terms rather than having to chase you around or try to garnish your bank accounts and wages.
It would be good to remember that when it comes to rentals, especially as with an apartment complex, you will always be required to sign a lease. The lease is not for your benefit, it is for the landlord's protection and to insure that what you owe will be paid as-agreed.
Some lessons are harder than others to learn. Maybe you will be a wiser person, if not poorer, for this encounter? Read the fine print next time; all of it.
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Contradictions, or differences of opinion, are the reason why we have several levels of judges and courts. In the Code section quoted, there are two independent requirements for filing an appeal (as far as paying money into the registry). That does not mean you can't ask for relief from the requirement, and in many courts clerks are barred from even making these "judgments" and are required to take any paper given to them. The Judge will then dismiss the appeal (or allow the Clerk to do it). Not everything is black and white. Think this one issue is confusing? Wait until State Court.
Mr. Hopkins is correct. You are not required to pay the judgment to appeal the case to the state court. That is only required to appeal a case from a trial court to an appeals court. You must pay the court costs to appeal your case to the State Court of DeKalb County. Once the case is docketed in state court, it will handled de novo, which means the case will be tried over again in the state court. This time though, the landlord can not only hang a judgment on you, the landlord can also recover attorney's fees against you if you lose the case in the state court. Go consult a local attorney before filing an appeal in your case.
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