It is important that you are on time for your Court Trial and that you have all of your information with you. Please turn off your cell phone and respect all parties in the courtroom. You may be asked to speak to the other party before the Court Trial to determine if your claim can be settled to avoid going to trial. Below are some steps to follow
- Before your court date, observe a small claims Court Trial. Small claims trials are heard Monday – Thursday at 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in courtroom 104. This is not required, but may help you to feel more comfortable and prepare you for your Court Trial.
- Determine the evidence that you may need. It is best to organize and label all exhibits, if you have more than one. Examples of exhibits are documents such as photographs, charts, and receipts. Make copies of the exhibits for the other side and the Court. If the Court has to make copies for you, copy fees will be assessed.
- Determine if you will need witnesses. You can ask the witness to appear voluntarily, or you may serve a subpoena on the witness to require them to appear.
- Before you appear in court, highlight the key issues you would like to present. When others are testifying, take notes on what they say.
Possible Outcomes From Your Court Trial
- The Magistrate or Judge will determine the facts, who won, and the amount of the judgment. The Magistrate or Judge may also make an award of costs (filing fee, service fee(s) and witness fee(s) if applicable) to the winning party.
- A party who is awarded judgment is responsible for collecting the money. The Court CANNOT do this for you.
- The Court may provide the person who owes the money with a Motion & Order for Interrogatories. The interrogatories are designed to help identify employers, savings/checking accounts, and property owned by the judgment debtor that can help with the collection of your money.
Additional information can be found in the “After Your Court Trial” section.
Mediation may be available or you may be directed to mediate on the day of your Court Trial. In mediation, a neutral third party will work with the parties to help negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. You should bring any legal or financial documents and any other information relating to the dispute with you to the mediation.
Possible Outcomes From Mediation
- You and the other party may reach a stipulation/agreement. Prepare a Stipulation form to identify the agreement. Both parties should sign the form and provide it to the Court.
- The party may agree that the money is owed. Prepare a Stipulation form to identify the agreement and payment arrangements. Both parties should sign the form and provide it to the Court. If immediate payment is made the case can be dismissed.
- If you and the other party do not reach a stipulation/agreement, then you will have a Court Trial.
If a settlement is reached in your case before the court date; the Plaintiff must file a written Notice of Dismissal with the Court. The written notice may be filed in room 135 of the City and County Building, by mail, or by appearing on the scheduled court date and informing clerk in the courtroom of the dismissal.
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