How can I prepare for my Small Claims Court Hearing?
Small Claims Court cases are often scheduled where a number of cases will be heard in the same department at the same time (one at a time). Often, the court’s schedule is very busy, and the court will expect you to present your argument in just a few minutes. (It is usually smart to pay attention to the cases heard before yours to see which issues and questions the judge asks the parties). 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).
Can I hire a lawyer?
No. A party cannot be represented by anyone else (including an attorney). However, you are able to talk to an attorney before or after the small claims court trial to answer questions and discuss strategy.
How long does it take my case to be heard?
Each County has its own Superior Court. The amount of time between when the claim is filed and heard varies between each County (and even within each County). Generally, the small claims court trial should be between twenty and seventy days after the case is filed. However, because of state cuts to the court’s budget, most hearings are now being set well past the seventy day mark.
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 on the day of your actual court hearing, but before you see the judge. 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).
Types of Mendocino County Small Claims Court Cases
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.
Which cases are filed in Mendocino 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 you are under 18 or not mentally competent, the judge must appoint a guardian at litem to represent you in small claims court. This person only acts on their behalf with respect to that particular small claims court case.
Small Claims Court Locations for Mendocino County
Mendocino County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 1 courthouse across Mendocino County. The website address for Mendocino County Superior Court (which will have more information for small claims court cases) is: www.mendocino.courts.ca.gov. Here are the following locations where Small Claims Court cases are heard in Mendocino County:
The Ukiah Branch is located at:100 N. State St. Ukiah, CA 95482-996
The phone number is: 707-468-2002
What is the most a person can sue for in Mendocino County Small Claims Court?
A person cannot sue in small claims court for more than $10,000.00. A corporation (or other corporate entity) cannot sue for more than $5,000. An individual can only file two small claims court cases for more than $2,500.00 in one year. A party can file as many cases in small claims court with an amount of $2,500 or less.
Mendocino County Small Claims Court
Small claims court is a special court where disputes between parties are handled quickly and inexpensively. The procedures and rules of evidence for small claims court cases in Mendocino are the same for any County in California. The rules are designed to be less complex and more less formal when compared to general civil cases. The party who files the action or claim is known as the plaintiff. The party who is being sued is known as the defendant. In California small claims court cases, neither party can hire an attorney to represent them at the hearing. But, each party can talk to and ask questions to an attorney before or after the hearing if they wish.
How much time do I have to file my case?
All cases must be filed by a certain deadline called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a legal term that means the time someone has to file a claim. The time limit varies depending on the type of the case. If the plaintiff suffered personal injury, the statute is two years from the injury (or when you learned of the injury). (A child has two years from the date of his or her eighteenth birthday to file a case). If the case involves an oral contract which was broken or breached, you have two years from the date of the breach to file your action. If there is a written contract, the plaintiff has three years to file the case from the date the defendant breached the contract. If you were the victim of fraud, you have three years from when you first learn of the fraud to file your case. 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.
Mendocino County Small Claims Court Filing Fee
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
- $1,500.01 to $5,000.00 – $50
- $5,000.01 to $10,000.00 – $75
If you filed twelve or more small claims court actions in the last twelve months, the filing fee is a constant $100.00.