Small Claims Court Checklist

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Small Claims Court Checklist
Determine the full legal name and address of the person(s) being sued (not a post office box number). This will help determine where the small claim must be filed.
Obtain the filing form from the clerk of the small claims court, which is normally part of the county or district court or located in the same building.
Pay the appropriate filing fee.
Arrange for the subpoena or notice to be served on the defendant (but not the plaintiff). In some places the plaintiff or the clerk may authorize someone to serve the order on the defendant. The subpoena or order will contain the trial date.
Gather documents, contact witnesses and arrange for them to come to the courthouse on the day of the trial or obtain a subpoena from the clerk of the small claims court for any witness who will not come voluntarily. Arrange for an interpreter, if necessary, either through the court or elsewhere.
Go to the court building early on the day of the trial and ask the clerk where your case is being heard. When you get to the courtroom, check the calendar and see that your case is listed.
When giving testimony, the plaintiff should briefly present only the facts, without editorializing or emotion. He should present all papers and documents that may help his case.
If the plaintiff wins, he may ask the defendant courteously for the money awarded him in the judgment.
If the plaintiff has difficulty in collecting his money, he should ask the clerk to assist him in obtaining same.
In California, the Plaintiff is not allowed to appeal if he loses, unless he is ordered to pay as a result of a counterclaim the defendant has filed against him. In some states, either party may appeal from a small claims judgment. Check the state statute creating the court and local court rules to determine the right and time for appeal.

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