Franklin County Small Claims Court

Franklin County Small Claims Court

When will my hearing date be?

The court will select a hearing date after the defendant files an answer to the claim. The date for the hearing is usually fifteen to thirty days after the defendant files an answer.
Franklin County Small Claims Court

Franklin County Small Claims Court

Small Claims courts are also called Magistrate Courts in Franklin County. These courts are used to resolve disputes if the parties are unable to resolve the dispute.
Small Claims courts handle cases where the amount in dispute is less than $15,000.00. They are designed to quickly and inexpensively settle the dispute.

Which County do I file my case in?

If you are suing a person, you must file the case in the County where they live. If the defendant lives in Franklin County, you can file the case in this County. If you are suing a corporation, you must file your case in the County where the registered agent for service of process is located. To find the registered agent, contact the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State either online or at 404-656-2817. If you are suing an unincorporated business, you must file the case where the business is physically located. If the business is in Franklin County, you can file here.
Plaintiff has to also pay a filing fee which is submitted with the initial paperwork. A portion of the filing fee is for the cost for the court clerk to serve one defendant. The filing fee varies by each county but is generally between $45 and $55. If an additional defendant is named in the action, there will be an extra charge for the court to serve the additional party. The extra charge is usually between $25 to $35 and caries by county.
The court clerk can direct you to the necessary forms and will check them for completeness once you have filled them out. However, the clerk is prohibited by law from giving legal advice. For example, the court clerk would be able to review your completed forms to make sure your signature is in the appropriate blanks but is not able to tell you which defendant you should sue. Additionally, the clerk will not be able to tell you if they think you will win your case (so don’t bother asking).

Can I hire an attorney for my Franklin County Small Claims Court case?

You may hire an attorney but you are not required to. You are able to file the case on your own completely without the assistance of an attorney. These cases are tried and heard in front of a judge, without a jury (again, they are designed so a party does not need to retain an expensive attorney to represent them in a case). Mediation is a tool that is sometimes used to help resolve a case without a trial. Some counties offer this as a service, and some counties require a case be sent to mediation prior to it being heard at a trial.

How does the defendant learn of the case?

After the case is filed the court clerk serves the defendant with a copy of the claim along with a summons. The defendant has 30 days to respond or answer the claim.

Franklin County Court Location

The Franklin County magistrate court is located at:

7085 Highway 145, Suite B
Carnesville, GA 30521

The magistrate judge is Chief Magistrate William David Buffington. The telephone number for the court is: 706-384-7473. The fax number is .

What types of cases are filed in Franklin County Small Claims Court?

Here are some examples of common case types which are filed in Franklin County Small Claims court:

  • Tenant does not and will not pay for damages caused to rental which are in excess of security deposit
  • A landlord wants to evict a tenant for failure to pay rent
  • Tenant moves out and landlord refuses to return security deposit
  • Failure of a merchant to deal with faulty merchandise
  • A person who borrowed money refuses to return it
  • A dry cleaner will not pay for clothing which was damaged or lost
  • Unnecessary repairs or work done on a car by a mechanic
  • What’s a default judgment?

    If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing or respond to the claim, the judge can issue a default judgment against the defendant. If it is granted, the plaintiff is entitled to the amount of damages asked for in the suit, plus court costs. If the plaintiff is asking for non-monetary damages (like property), the court has to conduct a separate hearing to determine the dollar amount of the damages. The defendant has only thirty days to respond to the caim. Once defendant fails to respond, the defendant is in “default.”

    Preparing for the Hearing

    Prior to the hearing you should:

    • Make sure you have copies of all the documents you need for your case. Prepare copies to provide to the opposing party and the court.
    • Contact any witnesses you need to call to prove your case and confirm that they will appear on the hearing date
    • If you need to bring in a witness to prove your case and the witness is not being cooperative with you, prepare a subpoena.
    • If in preparing your documents you find that you need additional documents, you can subpoena documents from other parties as well.
    • A subpoena is a documnt which can be completed by you and issued by the court which commands a person to appear in court and may require them to bring certain documents to court as well.
    • A subpoena can be obtained from the clerk’s office.

      What are the hearing procedures?

      Some counties require you to go to mediation before a hearing in front of a judge. Mediation is a dispute resolution tool designed to try and resolve the case by meeting with an independent third party who can evaluate the case and try to reach a settlement that is agreeable to all parties. Even if the parties are agreeable to settling the case through mediation, a plaintiff may still ask the defendant to pay court costs. If mediation is not successful, the case will proceed to the hearing. The court will hear evidence and provide an opportunity for both the plaintiff and the defendant to introduce their evidence (and allow each side to comment on the evidence introduced by the other party). When both parties are done, the judge will issue a decision (or judgment). The court may award damages to the plaintiff, defendant, both, or none of the parties depending on what the facts of the case warrant.
      If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the court may:

      • The court can allow defendant to put on his or her evidence and then issue a decision without hearing from the plaintiff.
      • The court can continue the case to a later date
      • Dismiss the case

      If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the court may grant a default judgment against the defendant. It is strongly recommended you attend the hearing whether you are the plaintiff or defendant (regardless of whether you believe the case to be strong or weak).

      Filing Procedures for Franklin Small Claims Court cases

      A plaintiff (person who starts the claim or lawsuit) must file a sworn statement with the clerk of the appropriate magistrate court. The sworn statement describes the charges made against the defendant (the person or business that is being sued by the plaintiff). The sworn statement should include the following details:

      • As the plaintiff, include your name, address, and telephone number (and your attorney’s if you retain one)(This is to ensure the court and other parties can contact you should the need arise).
      • Name and street address of the defendant (this is what the court uses to serve the defendant)
      • Include the amount of money you are asking for as the plaintiff
      • Brief, succint statement detailing why the defendant is being sued (include dates of all relevant events)
      • Include copies of all documents relevant to the claim (perhaps a contract for the purchase of a product, or lease)(Keep the originals with you for when you appear at the court trial)

      Appealing a Judgment

      If a party is not satisfied with the court’s decision, that party may file an appeal. The appeal is heard in the state or superior court of Franklin County. For the appeal, either party may request a jury trial (remember you aren’t entitled to a jury trial in magistrate court). Appeals must be filed within 30 days of the judge’s decision.

      Can the Defendant File a Claim Against the Plaintiff?

      Yes. This is called a counterclaim. The defendant can file this against the plaintiff’s original claim if it is related to the initial claim and the amount asked for by the defendant is les than $15,000. A defendant’s counterclaim is generally heard at the same time and date as the plaintiff’s original claim.

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