Small Claims Court Locations for Bureau County
In Bureau County, Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Bureau County Courthouse 700 S. Main Street Princeton, IL 61356
The circuit court clerk takes care of all documents and files for court cases. The circuit clerk’s address is:700 South Main Street Princeton, Illinois 61356-2037
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 815-872-2001
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 815-872-0027
Who hears my case in Bureau County Small Claims Court
Bureau County allows for a small claims court case to be either a bench (judge) or jury trial. It is highly recommended that a party consult with an attorney before asking for a jury trial. Jury trials (in front of six or twelve people) are much more complex than a bench trial (trial in front of a judge) and require more preparation. Also, if you are the party making the request for a jury trial, you will incur additional costs associated with the jury trial.
After the Small Claims Court Hearing
If the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff, the judge can issue an order or judgment awarding the plaintiff monetary damages. The law in Illinois requires that an appeal from the judgment be filed within thirty days of the date the judgment is entered by the court.
How to Prepare for a Small Claims Court Trial
A party preparing for a small claims court trial should prepare the case to make a clear, understandable presentation to a judge. You should gather and bring anything that can support your side of the case including photographs, contracts, receipts, invoices, or other documents. It is recommended to prepare a short chronology of events or description of all of the facts surrounding your case. The court will pay particular attention to details including times, dates, value of damages so it is critical to have these details noted and documented ahead of time (and even including them in your complaint). You should also take steps to secure the attendance of any witnesses that have information to help your case. Ensure the witness is aware of the exact date, time, and location of your small claims court case. If the person refuses to come to court, you may need to take steps to issue a subpoena for them to attend.
Beginning a Bureau County Small Claims Court Case
Before a party files a case in small claims court, it is recommended to contact the party directly by sending a demand letter. A demand letter is a written summary describing the circumstances of the plaintiff’s claim and explains why the plaintiff should be awarded the money. Sending a demand letter is recommended because filing a case and resolving it in court often takes time. Additionally, collection of any court award takes additional time and is never guaranteed. If it is possible to settle your case before filing with the court, it is an option worth exploring. Drafting a demand letter also allows the plaintiff to explain the case in a brief manner (which has to be done when the complaint is filed in the court).
How to File a Small Claims Court Case
The plaintiff needs to file a document called a complaint with the court clerk. A small claims complaint can be obtained at the court clerk’s office. The party filing the complaint is called the plaintiff. The party that the plaintiff is trying to recover money from is called the defendant.
Is an Attorney Able to Represent Me in Small Claims Court?
Plaintiffs and Defendants can either represent themselves or use an attorney. However, when a corporate entity is the plaintiff in a case, it is required to be represented by an attorney.
Who can sue in small claims court?
An Illinois corporation or any resident in Illinois can use small claims court to file a claim (and be sued as well). If an individual is under the age of majority (18), the court may appoint a guardian. If a corporation sues in small claims court, they will need to be represented by an attorney. However, if a corporation is sued, it can be represented by certain officials at the company including an officer, manager, or registered agent.
What County Should a Small Claims Court Case be filed in?
Illinois law requires a small claims court case to be filed in the county where one of the defendants live or in the county where the incident or transaction involved in the case occurred. In the case of a traffic collision, it would be the county where the traffic collision occurred.
Types of Small Claims Court Cases
Only the following types of cases can be filed in small claims court under Illinois law:
- breach of contract
- property damage
- personal injury cases
- repossessions of personal property that was leased or purchased on credit
- garnishment case against a debtor
The maximum judgment that can be allowed in small claims court is $10,000 (plus costs).
What Happens at a Small Claims Court Trial
At a bench trial (or trial in front of a judge), the judge will listen to both the plaintiff and the defendant. The judge will also listen to any witness testimony and will review exhibits offered by either the plaintiff or the defendant. The plaintiff presents their side first. Defendants present their case once the plaintiffs have finished presenting its case. As the judge is deciding the facts of your case, it is required that you speak slowly and clearly so the judge can follow what you are saying. It is normal to be nervous when speaking in front of a judge, which is why we recommend that your practice talking about your case with another person before the actual trial.
Service of a Bureau County Small Claims Court Defendant
After a complaint is filed in court, it needs to be served on the party. An individual can be served at their address. However, it can be more difficult finding a way to serve a corporate entity. Illinois allows for service of a corporate entity on the corporation’s office or registered agent. A plaintiff should visit the Illinois Secretary of State website to obtain the addresses for the corporate entity (and registered agents).
Small Claims Court Bureau County
Small claims court is a special type of civil court where a party can file a case for $10,000 or less. Rules and procedures for small claims court have been simplified to allow cases to be tried faster and by people who are not attorneys.