Clinton County Small Claims Court, Illinois


After the Small Claims Court Hearing

If the court finds for the plaintiff, the court is able to issue a judgment which awards monetary damages to the plaintiff. Illinois law requires that either party wishing to appeal the judgment in small claims court needs to be filed the appeal within thirty days of the date the judgment is entered by the court.

How to Prepare for a Small Claims Court Trial

The most important thing about preparing for your trial is the ability to explain your side of the case in a clear concise way to the judge (or jury) so they can understand. Before the trial date, you should gather any pieces of evidence that will help you explain your side of the case including any contracts, receipts, photographs, or other documents. It is useful to prepare a short chronology of the dates and times of the events in your case. Dates, times, and monetary values are extremely important details for the court to take note of. You should also take steps to secure the attendance of any witnesses that have information to help your case. It is important the witness is aware of the location of the court and the date and time of the trial in order to be able to appear in person. If the witness refuses to attend the small claims court trial, then a subpoena for the witness’s attendance may be necessary.

Clinton County Small Claims Court Location

Small Claims Court cases are heard at:

Clinton County Courthouse
850 Fairfax Street
Carlyle, IL 62231

The court’s website is here. The circuit court clerk takes care of all documents and files for court cases. The circuit clerk’s address is:

850 Fairfax St.
Carlyle, Illinois 62231

The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 618-594-6615
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 618-594-0197

Who can Bring a Case in Clinton County Small Claims Court?

Small claims court can be used by any resident of Illinois or Illinois corporation (both as a plaintiff or a defendant). The court may require the appointment of a guardian for those parties under the age of 18. The court does require that any corporation acting as a plaintiff in small claims court be represented by an attorney. However, if a corporation is acting as a defendant, it is allowed to be represented by certain members of the corporation.

What Types of Cases are handled in Clinton County Small Claims Court?

Illinois restricts the types of cases that can be filed in small claims court to the following:

  • breach of contract
  • property damage
  • personal injury
  • evictions
  • repossessions of personal property that was leased or purchased on credit
  • garnishment case against a debtor

The most amount of money that a court can award in small claims court is $10,000 (plus court costs and fees).

Filing a Small Claims Court Case

The plaintiff needs to file a document called a complaint with the court clerk. A blank complaint can be obtained by contacting the court clerk’s office. The party that files the complaint is called the plaintiff. The party being sued in the complaint is called the defendant.

Am I Able to Have an Attorney Represent Me in Small Claims Court?

You can represent yourself in small claims court or hire an attorney to represent you. But, corporate entities that are the plaintiffs are required to be represented by an attorney.

What Happens at a Small Claims Court Trial

At a trial in front of a judge, the court determines the facts of the case after listening to the evidence provided by both the plaintiff and defendant. The judge will also listen to any testimony from any witnesses and examine any exhibits (documents and photographs) provided by the parties. The court will hear evidence from the plaintiff first. The defendant puts on its side of the case once the plaintiff has finished. 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 for all people to be nervous when speaking in public (let alone in front of a judge) so it may be helpful to practice talking about your case in front of another person (spouse, friend, neighbor).

Clinton County Small Claims Court

Clinton County Small Claims Court

Clinton County Small Claims Court

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.

Does a Clinton County Small Claims Court Jury or Judge?

In Illinois, a small claims court case can be heard in front of a judge or a jury. If you are seriously considering requesting a jury trial, it is recommended that you speak with and seek advice from an attorney before making that request. A jury trial (which can be in front of six or twelve jurors) is highly complex and requires significantly more preparation than a trial in front of a judge. Requesting a jury trial also has additional costs for the party making the request.

Beginning a Clinton County Small Claims Court Case

It is strongly recommended to send a demand letter to the defendant before filing a small claims court case. A demand letter is simply a letter spelling out clearly and concisely what your case is and why you feel you are entitled to monetary damages. A demand letter is ideal because it takes time for a case to make its way through the courts toward a resolution. Also, collecting funds after prevailing in court can take more time and is not 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).

Can I file a case in Clinton County?

In Illinois, a small claims court case must be filed in the county where one of the defendants live or in the county in which the incident or transaction took place. For example, if the case involved property damage, the case could be filed in the county where the property is located.

Serving a Party in Clinton County Small Claims Court

After filing the complaint, the plaintiff needs to arrange for it to be served. Serving an individual is easy (if an address is known). But if the party is a corporate entity, it can be more difficult determining the correct procedure. In the State of Illinois, a corporate entity can be served on a corporation’s office or its registered agent. This information can be obtained online at the Illinois Secretary of State website.