Glynn County Small Claims Court
Preparing for the Hearing
The following steps are recommended to prepare for the hearing:
- 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.
- Communicate with any witnesses you intend to call to prove your case. Confirm they are available on the day of the hearing.
- If a witness is not cooperative or is not willing to appear, 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 piece of paper completed by you and issued by the court which commands certain persons to appear in court and may direct them to bring documents with them or to produce evidence. You can obtain a subpoena from the Glynn County Clerk for the Magistrate Court.
Is Glynn County the “proper” County for my case?
If you are suing a person, you must file the case in the County where they live. If the defendant lives in Glynn County, you can file the case in this County. If the defendant is a corporation, the claim must be filed in the county of the registered agent for the company. To find the registered agent, contact the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State either online or at 404-656-2817. If the business you are suing is unincorporated, you should file the case in the County where the business is physically located.In Glynn County, small claims court is sometimes called magistrate court. If a dispute arises between parties that cannot be resolved, a party can file the matter in magistrate court.
The plaintiff must also pay a filing fee which is submitted along with the initial paperwork (the sworn statement). This filing fee includes the cost for the clerk to serve one defendant. The actual filing fee varies amongst counties but is usually 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 could is usually between $25-$35 (to serve the added party).
The Glynn County Clerk for the Magistrate Court can help you complete the necessary forms but CANNOT give legal advice. For example, a clerk could review your forms to make sure there is a signature where it is required but cannot tell you who you should name as a defendant. Also, the clerk will not be able to tell you if they think you will win.
The magistrate or small claims court was designed so that disputes under a certain amount ($15,000) could be handled informally. They are designed to quickly and inexpensively settle the dispute.
What’s a default judgment?
If the defendant fails to answer the claim or appear at the hearing, the judge can issue a default judgment without hearing from defendant. If a default judgment is granted, the plaintiff is entitled to what he or she asked for in the action and court costs. An additional hearing by the court will be necessary if the plaintiff asked for something that does not have a specific dollar amount. The defendant has a 30 day window to respond to plaintiff’s claim. If the defendant fails to respond, the defendant is in default.
Hearing Date for my Small Claims Case
In Glynn County, the court selects the hearing date after the defendant responds to the claim. Hearing dates are usually 15 to 30 days after the date the answer was filed.
Procedures for the Hearing
In some counties, the court requires both parties to attempt to resolve the case through mediation before the court will hear the case (if the mediation is unsuccessful). 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 agree to settle the case out of court, the plaintiff may still ask the defendant to pay court costs (costs for filing the case, serving defendants, any subpoenas issues, etc.). If the parties cannot agree to settle the case, the the court will hear arguments presented by the plaintiff and the defendant. 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 (or all parties) are done presenting evidence, the judge will issue a decision. The court could award damages to the plaintiff, the defendant, or both depending on the merits of the case.
The court has several options if the plaintiff does not appear at the hearing:
- Allow the defendant to present evidence and render a decision without hearing from plaintiff
- Postpone the case until 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).
Can I hire an attorney?
County cases, you may hire an attorney to represent you but are not required to do so. You are able to file the case on your own completely without the assistance of an attorney. Small Claims court judges are heard and decided without a jury. 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.
What are the procedures for filing a case?
A plaintiff (person who starts the claim or lawsuit) must file a sworn statement with the clerk of the appropriate magistrate court. A sworn statement states the claims made against the defendant and includes the facts giving rise to the claim. The sworn statement should usually include the following:
- The name, address, and telephone number of the plaintiff (and attorney if there is one)(Make sure this is correct as this is how the court will contact you if there are any issues)
- Name and street address of the defendant (this is what the court uses to serve the defendant)
- The amount of money the plaintiff is requesting
- Explain why the defendant is being sued (and why the defendant owes the money)
- 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)
Yes. This is called a counterclaim. The defendant can file this against the plaintiff’s original claim if the defendant’s claim is related to the plaintiff’s initial claim and the amount asked for by the defendant is less than $15,000. The counterclaim of the defendant is generally heard by the magistrate court at the same time as the plaintiff’s initial claim.
Defendant’s Time to Answer
After the case is filed the court clerk serves the defendant with a copy of the claim along with a summons. From that point, the defendant has thirty days to respond or answer.
Glynn County Court Location
The magistrate court for Glynn County is located at:701 H Street Brunswick, GA 31520
The court can be reached by telephone at: 912-554-7250 and fax at 912-267-5677. The magistrate judge is Chief Magistrate Timothy Barton.
Types of Cases Filed in Glynn County Small Claims Court
Here are some examples of common case types which are filed in Glynn 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
- Borrower refuses to pay back money which was loaned
- A dry cleaner will not pay for clothing which was damaged or lost
- Automobile shop conducts unnecessary repairs or work on your car
How do I appeal a judgment?
If you are not happy with the court’s decision (and generally at least one party, sometimes both, are not satisfied with the judgment), the party may file an appeal (or ask a higher court to review the judgment). The appeal will be heard in the state or superior court of Glynn County. Either party may request a jury trial for purposes of the appeal (something which is unavailable at the magistrate court level). Appeals must be filed within 30 days of the judge’s decision.