Many successful litigants discover that winning a lawsuit doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to get paid what is owed to you. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to collect on a judgment and, in many cases, judgment creditors are left waiting for years to get the money owed to them. One of the first things that a judgment creditor should do after obtaining a judgment is to record a copy of the judgment with the county recorder in any state where the debtor owns property, which can create a lien against that property. If the judgment was obtained in an Arizona Justice Court, which typically handledisputes involving claims for less than $10,000, however, the judgment must first be take to Superior Court before it will constitute a lien on the debtor's property.
Arizona Revised Statute § 33-962
The section of the Arizona Revised Statutes governing the procedure for filing a justice court judgment in Superior Court is A.R.S. § 33-962, which provides:
A. The clerk of the superior court, upon presentation of a certified transcript of a judgment for more than fifteen dollars, exclusive of costs, given by a justice or municipal court, shall forthwith file the judgment. The judgment, from the time of filing the transcript thereof, shall be deemed the judgment of the superior court, shall be in the control thereof, and shall be carried into execution in the same manner and with like effect as a judgment of the superior court.
B. Such judgment shall be recorded in the manner provided in section 33-961 before it becomes a lien upon or in any manner affects or encumbers the real property of the judgment debtor or any part thereof.
As set forth in subsection B of this statute, a justice court judgment must first be filed with the superior court, at which point it "shall be deemed the judgment of the superior court" and when recorded shall become a lien the real property of the judgment debtor.
Renewing the Judgment Another Benefit of Filing Judgment with the Superior Court
In addition to not being able to constitute a lien on the debtor's real property, justice court judgment also cannot be renewed like superior court judgments, which is another significant reason to take your justice court judgment to superior court. A.R.S. § 12-1611 allows judgment to be renewed within five years after the entry of the judment, but pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-1612 this renewal method is only for superior court judgments, including justice court judgments filed under A.R.S. § 33-962.
If you have a judgment you are trying to collect or need assistance with any collection law matter, don't hesitate to contact Harper Law to set an appointment to discuss your situation with an Arizona attorney.