Marin County Small Claims Court Hearing
Cases in Marin County are often scheduled with a number of other small claims court cases. Because the court’s schedule is very busy (and has become more busy based on state cuts to the court’s budget), the court may expect you to present your entire case in a few minutes. It is very important to spend time preparing for your case ahead of time. Bring any and all documents that support your case including: receipts, photos, contracts, and any other relevant documents. You should also bring other witnesses who can testify about your case. Being prepared for the hearing is half the battle. After each side has had the opportunity to present its side, the court will make a decision. The court will either make its ruling immediately, or notify both sides of its decision through the mail (make sure your address with the court is correct).
How long does it take my case to be heard?
Each Superior Court is responsible for one County. Time between when the case is filed to when the case is heard vary amongst each County (and even within the same County). Usually, the hearing for your small claims court case should be between twenty and seventy days after the case was filed. Because of state cuts to the Marin County Superior Court budget, most hearings are set well past the seventy days.
What types of cases are filed in Marin County Small Claims Court?
Many different types of cases can be filed in small claims court. Some common types of cases are automobile accidents, property damage incidents, homeowners association disputes, landlord tenant disputes (possible over security deposits), and contractor disputes.
Marin County Small Claims Court
Small claims court is a special court where disputes between parties are handled quickly and inexpensively. The rules for small claims court cases in Marin County are the same for any county in California. The rules for small claims court are simple and informal compared to the rules of regular civil cases. The party who files the action or claim is known as the plaintiff. The person or persons who is being sued is called the defendant. In small claims court cases in California, neither party is allowed to have a lawyer represent you at the hearing. But, each party can talk to and ask questions to an attorney before or after the hearing if they wish.
Small Claims Court Locations for Marin County
Marin County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 2 courthouses across Marin County. The website address for Marin County Superior Court (which will have more information for small claims court cases) is: www.marincourt.org. Here are the locations:
Hall of Justice
The Hall of Justice is located at:3501 Civic Center Dr. San Rafael, CA 94903
The phone number is: 415-444-7040
Hall of Justice Mailing Address:
The Hall of Justice Mailing Address: is located at:P.O. Box 4988 San Rafael, CA 94913
The phone number is: 415-444-7040
Can I file my claim in Marin County?
Normally, a case must be filed in the County where the Defendant resides (lives for a person or business has its principle place of business). There are some exceptions to this rule (for example, an auto accident can be filed in the County where the accident occurred). A party may file the claim in small claims court if that party is at least eighteen years old. A party can file as someone less than eighteen if he or she has been emancipated. If a plaintiff is under eighteen or mentally incompetent, a judge will appoint someone (normally a relative) as a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is an adult appointed by the court to represent that person only for that case.
Filing Fee for Small Claims Court cases in Marin County
The plaintiff must pay a filing fee when the claim is filed. If a party has filed twelve or less claims over the past twelve months, the fee is:
- $0 to $1,500 – $30
- $1,500 to $5,000 – $50
- $5,000 to $10,000 – $75
Once a party has filed twelve cases within twelve months, each consecutive case has a $100 filing fee.
How much time do I have to file my case?
All cases must be filed by a certain deadline called the statute of limitations. This is a legal term which simply means the deadline for which you must file your claim. The time limit is different depending on the type of the case. If you were hurt, you have two years from the date of the injury or the date the injury is discovered to file your claim. (A minor has two years from his or her eighteenth birthday). If an oral contract (or oral agreement) was broken, you have two years after the agreement was broken to file your case. If a written contract was broken, you have three years from when the agreement was broken. If the defendant committed fraud, the plaintiff has three years from when the plaintiff first learned of the fraud. It is often difficult to find out when it is too late to file. It is better to file your case sooner, and let the judge decide, rather than later and lose having your case heard.
What is small claims court mediation?
You may be asked to have your mediated before the trial. Mediation is a legal term which means that each side will have a discussion with an impartial third party to try and reach an agreement for the outcome of the case. Mediation may be offered before your trial or the very same day of the trial. Mediation may work for your case, but at the very least, it will give you the chance to explain your case to someone (before you explain it to the judge).
Marin County Small Claims Court Limits
A person cannot sue for more than $10,000 in a case. A business can only sue for $5,000 or less in small claims court. An individual can only file two small claims court cases for more than $2,500.00 in one year. A person can file as many claims asking for $2,500 or less.
Can I hire a lawyer?
For California small claims court cases, you are not able to be represented by an attorney at the actual hearing. However, you are able to talk to an attorney before or after the small claims court trial to answer questions and discuss strategy.