This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
A judgment is the determination and sentence of the law, awarded and pronounced by the court.1 The code definition of a judgment is "the final determination of the rights of the parties in an action."2 At Common Law a judgment was classed as a contract,3 since the action of debt could be maintained thereon.4 This view was entertained in many of the early American cases.5 In many of these cases the proposition that a judgment is a contract is wholly uncalled for, the real point at issue being decided without reference thereto. Thus Where the point actually decided was that a foreign judgment must show that the court rendering such judgment had jurisdiction of the cause of action and of the defendant the court added the obiter: "A judgment for money is a contract of record to pay the amount thereof to the plaintiff. Such a contract, however, is not entered into by the defendant in proper person, but by the court for him . . ."6 and a judgment rendered by confession in favor of a bank, without the consent of such bank was held voidable at the bank's election, but on the unnecessary ground of being "a new and different contract."7 So a judgment against a feme covert was held void, because it was "in the nature of a contract."8 A release of "all notes, accounts and demands of every kind and nature" was held to include a judgment, on the ground that "a judgment is a demand - a contract of record."9 A judgment is often said to be a "contract of record"10 or "a debt of record."11 Thus it has been said of consent judgments: "They are contracts in the most solemn form sanctioned by the court, and cannot be collaterally attacked."12
1 Bouvier's Law. Diet. "Judgement"; Black. Com. III., 396; Jud-son v. Gage, 98 Fed. 540; Gould v. Hayes, 71 Conn. 86; 40 Atl. 930; Blystone v. Blystone, 51 Pa. St. 373.
2 Rev. Stat. Ohio, Sec. 5310; Kingman v. Mfg. Co., 170 U. S. 675; In re Smith, 122 Cal. 462; 7 L. R. A. 240; 55 Lac. 249; Voisin v. Insurance Co., 123 N. Y. 120; 25 N. E. 325; Cameron v. Workman. 30 O. S. 58; Moore v. Ogden, 35 O. S. 430; Cincinnati v. Steadman, 53 O. S. 312; 45 N. E. 5. This definition of course applies to final judgments at Common Law.
3 Black. Com. III., 158.
4 Williams v. Jones, 13 M. & W. 628.
5 Stuart v. Lander, 16 Cal. 372; 76 Am. Dec. 538; Reed v. Eldredge, 27 Cal. 348; Henry v. Henry, 11 Ind. 236; 71 Am. Dec. 354; Geb-hard v. Garnier, 12 Bush. (Ky.) 321; 23 Am. Rep. 721; Sawyer v. Vilas, 19 Vt. 43.
6 Gebhard v. Garnier, 12 Bush. (Ky.) 321; 23 Am. Rep. 721.
7 Farmers' Bank v. Mather, 301 Ia. 283.
8 Morse v. Tappan, 3 Gray (Mass.) 411.