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judgment, decision of a court of law respecting the issues before it. The term ordinarily is not applied to the decree (order) of courts of equity. The outstanding characteristic of a legal judgment, in contrast to an equitable decree, is its finality and fixity; thus, except for error justifying an appeal, the judgment may not be reconsidered (see jeopardy). The judgment, which in most cases of consequence follows the verdict of a jury, is the determination of the judge that the defendant is guilty or innocent of the alleged offense. If the judgment is one of criminal guilt, the court proceeds to impose sentence. In civil cases, when judgment is for the plaintiff, the court usually awards a sum as damages. The damages thereupon constitute a debt that takes priority over all other obligations of the defendant except taxes and previous judgments. If the debtor fails to pay, the sheriff, to execute the judgment, will seize and sell first his personal property and then his realty. The sheriff may also garnish monies owed to the defendant, e.g., his wages (see garnishment). Certain property of the debtor is exempt from seizure, including clothing, equipment needed to carry on his trade or profession, and the family homestead. In some jurisdictions a defendant who willfully refuses to pay a judgment may be punished for contempt of court. A judgment rendered by the courts of one state is entitled to recognition by the courts of all other states.
Judgment Day or Doomsday, central point of early Christian, Jewish, and Islamic eschatology, sometimes called the Day of the Lord. References to it throughout the Bible are numerous. The Christian belief in the Last Judgment asserts that this world will end, the dead will be raised up in the general resurrection, and God, or his agent, will gloriously come to judge the living and the dead. The sinners shall be cast into hell, and the righteous shall live in heaven. These concepts are also common themes in early Jewish apocalyptic speculation. No generally accepted Christian teaching pronounces when Judgment Day shall occur, but many individuals have prophesied its date. Doomsday believers are called chiliasts, millenarians, or, specifically, Adventists. See also Antichrist; Armageddon; millennium; apocalypse. The Last Judgment also figures in the Qur'an.
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the. the occasion, after the resurrection of the dead at the end of the world, when, according to biblical tradition, God will decree the final destinies of all men according to the good and evil in their earthly lives
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005