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I won my Small Claims case but defendant appealed. It's headed for a civil trial. Am I allowed to mention the previous SC case?

Stockton, CA |

I won my SC case I brought against a party but they appealed the decision and it is now moving to a Civil Court. Can I talk about the previous SC case in any regard or by law do I have to treat it as an entirely new case? Thank you. Also, I prepared an addendum with my SC case, will this Civil judge review my addendum before our new case?

Thank you for saving the day, Charles Richard Perry! Excellent advice, extremely accurate and quick to answer. Thank you again.

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Attorney answers 3


The appeal is a completely new trial. You should pretend as if the case in small claims court never happened. The judge won't care what happened there, and may cut you off if you talk about it.

I doubt the judge hearing the appeal will review papers filed in the small claims court action. He will rely only on what is filed and presented during the appeal. If your addendum is only filed in the small claims action, you should take appropriate steps to have it filed before the appellate judge in order to make sure it is considered. The Court clerk, however, may be able to tell you whether the small claims file is actually transferred to the appellate judge, or whether you should re-file it in the appellate proceeding.

Best of luck to you.



Oh no! My court date is tomorrow at 9am. Is there a motion I should consider or can I ask the judge for a new date if he has not received the addendum? My case is extremely complicated hence the need for the addendum. I'm very frightened now.

Charles Richard Perry

Charles Richard Perry


Ask the judge tomorrow morning if he has received the addendum. If he or she has not, ask if you can submit a copy right then and there as part of your presentation of your case. Be sure to have an extra copy to give to your adversary -- even if you have already served it on him or her. If the court declines to accept it, you must be prepared to proceed orally as to your case, and essentially incorporate the addendum into your presentation. Do not worry if your case seems complex -- the judge will have heard many, many cases more complex than yours. You should also spend a bit of time today trying to simplify things , and to eliminate the parts of your presentation that aren't necessary. Judges like it best when you cut to the chase, and don't spend lots of time on things that aren't critical.


No, an appeal of a small claims judgment is not really an appeal but rather a trial de novo (new trial). Whatever happened in the original trial is not relevant. You should treat the appeal trial as a completely new trial. The judge will review the Plaintiff's Claim and any addendum thereto prior to the commencement of the trial de novo.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


In my experience, the judge knows the underlying decision. Be prepared as you were originally, and if you have new material/evidence etc, have it ready.

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