How do I prepare my case?
Whether you are the plaintiff or defendant, your job at the formal hearing (trial) is to give the judge the facts, and convince the judge that he or she should decide in your favor. Before the hearing, you should assemble your evidence, contact your witnesses, and make a written outline of your case. As a defendant, you can have the claim moved to regular court if you do not want it handled in small claims court. However, if the claim is moved to regular court, court costs will be higher, and you may need an attorney.

Your evidence may include: your testimony; the testimony of witnesses; anything in writing; any tangible thing, such as the faulty merchandise on which your claim, or defense, or both is based; photos or diagrams of the damage, or the scene of the incident, etc. Please note that evidence includes testimony, documents, and things. In summary, anything that can support your case may be useful as evidence. Certain kinds of testimony may be especially useful. For example, a professional repairman could be a good witness when poor or incomplete workmanship is an important question. Friends, neighbors, or bystanders who are familiar with the incident or transaction , or some aspect of the incident or transaction, may be witnesses. Contact your witnesses before the hearing, make sure they agree to come to the hearing and testify, and make sure they know the time and place of the hearing. If a witness will not voluntarily come to the hearing and testify, you can have the court order the witness to come to the hearing, to issue a subpoena to that witness. Ask the clerk of the court how to request the issuance of a subpoena. You may have to make an additional deposit with the court to pay for the costs of the subpoena. It is necessary and appropriate to talk to witnesses. You have to ask them what they know, and if they will come and testify. When you talk to witnesses, tell them to testify truthfully.

When you have gathered your evidence, including your testimony and the testimony of other witnesses, make a written outline of the points you wish to make in presenting your claim or defense. List your evidence and witnesses in the order you wish to present them. A good way to present your version of the incident or transaction is in the sequence it actually happened. Present your evidence, including any testimony, just like you would tell a story. In this way, the separate bits of testimony and other evidence will fit together and make a complete, easily understandable summary of the incident or transaction.

Show All Answers

1. What is small claims court?
2. What cases can the court handle?
3. Who can sue or be sued?
4. Where do I file my claim?
5. How do I file my claim?
6. What does it cost?
7. I’ve been sued! What do I do now?
8. What if the claim is settled before hearing?
9. How do I prepare my case?
10. What is mediation?
11. How does mediation work?
12. Why mediate?
13. What if I do not appear at the hearing / trial?
14. What if I win or lose?
15. How do I get my money?