Judgment Defined and Explained

The declaration, by a court, of the rights and duties of the parties to a lawsuit which has been submitted to it for decision.12 min read

A court's official decision on the matters before it. The declaration, by a court, of the rights and duties of the parties to a lawsuit which has been submitted to it for decision. Can also include an "injunction" a specific order to do or not to do something.

A final decision made by a judge on a material issue during a case is termed a judgment. A judgment can provide all or a portion of the relief sought in a case, including property division, alimony, child support, custody or an injunction.

In most states, the court order granting a divorce and ruling on the issues associated with the divorce (alimony, child support, custody, visitation and division of property) is called a decree. Decrees can be temporary, interlocutory (semi-permanent) or permanent. For all practical purposes, a decree is the same thing as a judgment.

(2) The decision or sentence of the law given by a court of justice or other competent tribunal as the result of proceedings instituted therein for the redress of an injury.

Language of Judgments

The language of judgments therefore is not that 'it is decreed,' or 'resolved,' by the court; but 'it is considered,' that the plaintiff recover his debt, damages or possession as the case may require or that the defendant do go without day. This implies that the judgment is not so much the decision of the court as the sentence of the law pronounced and decreed by the court, after due deliberation and inquiry.

What Makes a Judgment Valid?

To be valid, a judicial judgment must be given by a competent judge or court at a time and place appointed by law and in the form it requires. A judgment would be null if the judge had not jurisdiction of the matter; or having such jurisdiction, he exercised it when there was no court held or but of his district; or if be rendered a judgment before the cause was prepared for a hearing.

The judgment must confine itself to the question raised before the court and cannot extend beyond it. For example, where the plaintiff sued for an injury committed on his lands by animals owned and kept carelessly by defendant, the judgment may be for damages, but it cannot command the defendant for the future to keep his cattle out of the plaintiff's land. That would be to usurp the power of the legislature. A judgment declares the rights which belong to the citizen, the law alone rules future actions. The law commands all men, it is the same for all because it is general; judgments are particular decisions, which apply only to particular persons and bind no others; they vary like the circumstances on which they are founded.