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How to Vacate a Judgement in Maryland

Law Office of William Ray Ford Dec. 7, 2023

Finding yourself at the receiving end of a verdit that you believe to be unfair can be daunting. The mere thought of going against a court's decision can seem overwhelming and intimidating, and you may feel like you're standing alone. This situation can feel even more distressing when you're unsure about the process or unaware of your rights.

It’s important to understand that you are not alone in this journey. As a civil litigation attorney based in Clinton, Maryland, I'm ready to offer skilled counsel and detail-oriented guidance as you navigate the intricate process of vacating a judgement in our state. If you've ever found yourself questioning a judge's verdict and wondering how you can challenge it, read on. 

The Basics of Filing a Motion to Vacate  

In Maryland—like other states—there are various levels of courts, including District Courts, Circuit Courts, the Court of Special Appeals, and the Court of Appeals. Each of these courts has its unique function, jurisdiction, and procedures. With these levels in mind, let’s consider the idea of "vacating a judgement", which essentially means to cancel or nullify a court's judgement or verdict. This can be a complex process, requiring a thorough understanding of the legal guidelines and a solid legal argument that justifies the need to cancel the earlier verdict. 

If you're unsatisfied with a judge's verdict and want to challenge it, you can file a motion to vacate with the same court that issued the judgement. Remember, if you're challenging multiple verdicts, you'll need to file separate motions with the respective courts. To ensure a seamless and accurate filing process, I highly recommend seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney who can guide you through the requirements and help you prepare the paperwork. 

When Might a Motion to Vacate Succeed? 

Motions to vacate often succeed when one party in a lawsuit wasn't properly informed about the judgement. For instance, if you never received notice of a lawsuit and failed to appear in court, a default judgement may have been issued against you. However, if you can prove that you weren't legally and properly informed about the lawsuit, your chances of getting a motion to vacate approved are high. 

Family law courts also often grant motions to vacate in cases where one parent didn't appear for a child custody hearing due to lack of proper notice. If you can demonstrate that you weren't given adequate notice of the court date, you may be able to successfully vacate the judgement. 

Moreover, a motion to vacate may be granted if there was a clerical error in the judgement, newly discovered evidence that couldn't be presented before the judgement, or if the judgement has already been voided. A local attorney can thoroughly investigate your case and determine if any of these conditions apply. 

The Process & Timeline

What are the specific steps and conditions necessary to successfully vacate a judgement in Maryland? Once you've filed a motion to vacate, it's important to stick to the timeline set by the court. In Maryland, you must file the motion within 30 days after the judgement was issued, specifically with the District Court where the judgement was handed down. After filing, a hearing will be scheduled to determine whether or not to approve the motion.

If your motion to vacate judgement isn't granted, you have the option to appeal the decision. The appeal will be heard in the Circuit Court, where you can present your case and arguments to a higher court. 

If your motion to vacate is granted, you'll be given the opportunity for a new court date. This is where the assistance of an attorney becomes incredibly valuable. Your attorney can help you prepare a strong defense, ensure all necessary documentation is in order, and represent your interests during the new trial.

Keep in mind that vacating a judgement can be a challenging process. Having a knowledgeable lawyer by your side can significantly increase your chances of success and ensure that your voice is heard throughout these proceedings. 

How Can A Skilled Attorney Help? 

Working with an attorney, especially an attorney who has seen these kinds of cases before, can significantly enhance your chances of successfully vacating a judgement. Here's how: 

  • Understanding the Law: An attorney can provide valuable insight into Maryland's legal guidelines and statutes pertaining to vacating judgements. They can interpret complicated legal jargon and help you fully comprehend the circumstance of your case. 

  • Preparing the Motion: Crafting a compelling motion to vacate involves the intricate weaving of facts, law, and persuasive argument. An attorney can skillfully prepare your motion, ensuring that it is clear and concise. 

  • Presenting New Evidence: If there's newly discovered evidence that couldn't have been presented at the original hearing, your attorney can identify, evaluate, and effectively present it to the court to strengthen your case. 

  • Court Representation: An attorney can advocate for your rights at the court hearing. They can present a compelling argument to the judge, addressing any counterarguments from the opposing party. 

  • Post-Judgement Guidance: If your motion is successful, your attorney can guide you on the next steps. 

Remember, the legal arena can be daunting to navigate alone. A seasoned attorney can be a valuable ally. 

Reach Out to Knowledgeable Guidance 

Vacating a judgement in Maryland requires careful navigation of the legal system and adherence to specific procedures. If you find yourself disagreeing with a judge's verdict, it's crucial to consult with me at Law Office of William Ray Ford. As an experienced civil litigation attorney, I can guide you through the process and provide you with the necessary support. If you live anywhere in Maryland, including Calvert County, Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel,  Montgomery County, Howard County, Frederick County, or Queen Anne’s County, set up a consultation to discuss your case.