Macon County Small Claims Court
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. The defendant has 30 days to respond or answer the claim.
Procedures for the Hearing
Some counties require you to go to mediation before a hearing in front of a judge. Mediation is an attempt to try and settle the case without a hearing. 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:
- allow defendant the opportunity to put on evidence and issue a decision without the plaintiff present.
- Postpone the case until a later date
- The court can dismiss the case
If the defendant does not show at the hearing, the court has the authority to grant a default judgment against the defendant. The name comes from the fact that because the defendant does not show, the plaintiff wins the case by “default.” 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 Macon Small Claims Court cases
The plaintiff (or person filing the action) needs to file a sworn statement with the magistrate court clerk in the proper county. 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 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)
- Include the name and street address of the defendant (this is what the court will use to serve the defendant)
- Include the amount of money you are asking for as the plaintiff
- Detail why the defendant is being sued (and why this defendant owes the money)
- Copies of all relevant documents regarding the claim (for example, any contracts, receipts, etc.)
- Collect all the documents you need for your case. Also prepare extra copies for the judge and other party (or parties)
- Contact any witnesses you need to call to prove your case and confirm that they will appear on the hearing date
- If a witness is not cooperative or is not willing to appear, prepare a subpoena.
- 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 tenant refuses to pay for damages which are more than the security deposit
- Tenant fails to pay rent and landlord wants to evict tenant
- Tenant moves out and landlord refuses to return security deposit
- A merchant refuses to repair, replace, or refund faulty merchandise
- Borrower refuses to make payments on a loan
- Dry cleaning business damages or loses items and refuses to pay for damage or loss
- Automobile shop conducts unnecessary repairs or work on your car
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 will likely be heard the same day as the plaintiff’s claim.
Is Macon County the “proper” County for my case?
The case must be filed in the County where the defendant (or the person you are suing) lives. If the defendant lives in Macon County, you may 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. (Contact the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State either online or at 404-656-2817 to find out if a business is a corproation and the name and address of the registered agent). If the business you are suing is unincorporated, you should file the case in the County where the business is physically located.
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. This extra charge could be between $25 and $35.
The Macon 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. The clerk will also not be able to tell you whether he or she believes you will win your case.
How do I prepare for the hearing?
We recommend taking the following steps to prepare for your hearing:
Similarly, if you need additional documents that are not in your possession, you can issue a subpoena for the documents as well.
You can obtain a subpoena from the Macon County Clerk for the Magistrate Court.
The purpose of magistrate court is to resolve claims in an informal manner for any amount less than $15,000. The process is designed to be quick and inexpensive.
Can I hire an attorney?
We cannot tell you whether or not you should hire an attorney. However, you may hire an attorney if you wish, but are not required to do so. You are able to file the case on your own completely without the assistance of an attorney. All cases are tried and heard before a judge, without a jury. You should remember that the procedures and rules for small claims court cases are designed so that a party should not need to have to retain an expensive attorney in order for their case to be effectively presented. Sometimes, mediation is recommended or required before the judge will hear the case.
What’s a default judgment?
When a defendant fails to appear at the hearing or respond to the claim, the court can grant a default judgment. If it is granted, the plaintiff is entitled to the amount of damages asked for in the suit, plus court costs. If the plaintiff asks for damages that are not measured in money (like specific property), the court will likely conduct an additional hearing to place a dollar amount on the value of the property (or item being asked for). The defendant has only thirty days to respond to the caim. Once this time period passes, the defendant is in “default.”
What types of cases are filed in Macon County Small Claims Court?
These are some examples of the types of cases that are filed in magistrate court:
How do I appeal 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 Macon 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.
How do I pick a hearing date?
The court will select a hearing date after the defendant files an answer to the claim. The date for the hearing is generally 15 to 30 days after the defendant files his or her answer.
Locations for Macon County Small Claims Court
The magistrate court for Macon County is located at:
It can be reached by telephone at: 478-472-8509. The fax number is 478-472-8510. The magistrate judge is Chief Magistrate Linda S. Rodgers.