- Justice Court
- Small Claims
- Defendant Information
A defendant is the person being sued.
- The purpose of Small Claims is to resolve disputes promptly.
- The Defendant in a Small Claims action receives notice either by certified mail or is served in person at least 10 days prior to the trial date. In this notice he is directed to appear in Small Claims Court to answer the claim. The Defendant in any court action is presumed to be free of responsibility in such action until the Plaintiff proves the facts by showing a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the Plaintiff must prove that:
- The Defendant is indebted to him
- The amount of the indebtedness
- Demand for payment has been made
- The Defendant has refused to satisfy such debt
- The Defendant is advised to bring whatever books, papers, and witnesses he may need to establish his defense to said claim. Please provide three (3) copies of any documentation that will be presented as evidence; one for the Judge, one for the Plaintiff, and one copy for yourself. Failure to arrive prepared for your hearing may result in the hearing being rescheduled for a later date at your expense.
- While there are no provisions for the compensation of attorneys in Small Claims Court, the Defendant and/or the Plaintiff may retain counsel if he wishes. A Defendant may file a counter-claim. To determine if this is appropriate, a Defendant should consider consulting a private attorney.
- Do not submit any evidence to support your defense prior to the hearing. No pre-trial conferences with the Judge will be granted unless both parties are present.
- Should the Defendant fail to appear at the time and place set forth, a Default Judgment will be entered for the amount of the claim stated, plus costs. If the Court should find against the Defendant, he must pay the amount awarded at that time however the judge will allow you up to 10 days to pay the full amount. The Court is unable to consider payment terms unless the Defendant makes an appearance. If the Defendant breaks the terms of the payment schedule the Plaintiff will be authorized to immediately seek collection of the outstanding balance.
- If the Defendant, after being served, would like to make an out-of-court settlement with the Plaintiff, the Court can provide a "Stipulation / Judgment" form. This form must be completed, signed by both parties and filed with the Court prior to the hearing. Should the Defendant default on the payments, Plaintiff will automatically have judgment and may attach any assets.
- Either party may appeal to the District Court within five working days of judgment. A Notice of Appeal to the District Court must be filed with the Justice Court along with the appropriate filing fees, an appeal bond in the amount of the judgment and you must post with the Court Reporter sufficient money to cover the cost of transcript preparation. The Judge or the Clerks cannot give legal advice regarding the District Court requirements. You may wish to contact a private attorney to help you with this procedure.