Tattnall County Small Claims Court
Appealing 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 by either the state or superior court in the county. On the appeal, either party may request a jury trial (something you cannot have at the magistrate court level). The appeal must be filed within thirty days of the court’s decision.
When a defendant fails to appear at the hearing or respond to the claim, the court can grant a default judgment. If a default judgment is entered, the plaintiff is awarded the amount that was requested in the claim along with 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 only thirty days to respond to the caim. If the defendant fails to respond, the defendant is in default.
The magistrate or small claims court was designed so that disputes under a certain amount ($15,000) could be handled informally. The process is designed to be quick and inexpensive.
Tattnall County Court Location
The Tattnall County magistrate court is located at:PO Box 513 Reidsville, GA 30453
The magistrate judge is Chief Magistrate James E Anderson. The telephone number for the court is: 912-557-4372. The fax number is 912-557-3136.
When will my hearing date be?
In Tattnall County, the court selects the hearing date after the defendant responds to the claim. The date for the hearing is usually fifteen to thirty days after the defendant files an answer.
Is Tattnall County the “proper” County for my case?
Is Tattnall 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 Tattnall County, you can file the case in this County. If the person you are suing is a corporation, the case must be filed in the County where the registered agent for service of process is located. In order to find the registered agent for service of process, contact the 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 Tattnall 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 is an extra charge for serving the additional party. This extra charge could be between $25 and $35.
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, 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 defendant is able to issue a claim against the plaintiff. This is called a counterclaim. The defendant can file a counterclaim against the plantiff’s original claim if it is related to it, and the total money claimed 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.
How do I prepare for the hearing?
Prior to the hearing you should:
- Collect all the documents you need for your case. Also prepare extra copies for the judge and other party (or parties)
- 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 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.
- allow defendant the opportunity to put on evidence and issue a decision without the plaintiff present.
- continue the case.
- dismiss the case.
- Name, address, and telephone number of the plaintiff (and attorney if the plaintiff has one)
- Name and strees address of 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)
- Renter does not or will not ay for damages to rental property
- A landlord wants to evict a tenant for failure to pay rent
- Landlord fails to return the security deposit to the tenant
- Failure of a merchant to deal with faulty merchandise
- A person who borrowed money refuses to return it
- 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
A subpoena can be obtained from the clerk’s office of the Magistrate Court for Tattnall County.
Can I hire an attorney for my Tattnall County Small Claims Court case?
What are the hearing procedures?
Some counties require the parties to attempt to resolve the case through mediation before the court hears the case (assuming the mediation is unsuccessful). Mediation is a way for both parties to meet with an independent third party who can evaluate the case and try to reach a settlement that is agreeable to both 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 also allow the plaintiff and defendant to question or dispute each other’s evidence during the hearing. 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.
The court has several options if the plaintiff does not appear at the hearing:
If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the court may grant a default judgment against the defendant. The lesson to be learned is make sure you attent the hearing regardless of whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant.
Filing Procedures for Tattnall 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 simply spells out the claims made against the defenant and includes the facts on which the claim is based. The sworn statement should usually include the following:
How does the defendant learn of the case?
After the case is filed, the clerk of the magistrate court serves the defendant with a copy of the claim along with a summons. The defendant has 30 days to respond or answer the claim.
Types of Cases Filed in Tattnall County Small Claims Court
These are some examples of the types of cases that are filed in magistrate court: