Can I file a case in Macon 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. In the case of a traffic collision, it would be the county where the traffic collision occurred.
What kind of cases are handled in 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
- repossession of personal property leased or purchased on credit
- garnishment case against a debtor
A small claims court can only award a party $10,000 (plus court costs and fees).
Is an Attorney Able to Represent Me in Small Claims Court?
Both plaintiffs and defendants are allowed to be represented by attorneys in small claims court or you can represent yourself. However, when a corporate entity is the plaintiff in a case, it is required to be represented by an attorney.
Small Claims Court Locations for Macon County
In Macon County, Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Macon County Courthouse 253 East Wood Street Decatur, IL 62523
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:253 East Wood Street Decatur, Illinois 62523-1489
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 217-424-1454
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 217-424-1350
After your Small Claims Court Case
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.
Small Claims Court Macon 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.
Who can Bring a Case in Macon 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). If someone is under eighteen, the court may appoint a guardian to act on behalf of the minor. A corporation is not required to be represented by an attorney in small claims court. However, if a corporation is acting as a defendant, it is allowed to be represented by certain members of the corporation.
Small Claims Court Trial Preparation
The key to preparing a case for trial is to be able to explain your side of the case in a way that is easy for the judge (or jury) to understand. You should gather and bring anything that can support your side of the case including photographs, contracts, receipts, invoices, or other documents. Preparing a short chronology of the events in your case is helpful. Details including dates, times, and values of damages or items purchased will be important for the court to take note of (and should have been included in your initial complaint if you are the plaintiff). If there are any people who observed anything in your case, it is important to invite them to court to provide testimony at the trial. 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.
What to Expect at a Macon County 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 witness testimony and will review exhibits offered by either the plaintiff or the defendant. The court will hear evidence from the plaintiff first. The defendant puts on its side of the case once the plaintiff has finished. It is imperative that you speak slowly and clearly for the judge to be able to understand your side of the case. Normally, people will naturally be inclined to be nervous when speaking in public (and in front of a court), so it is recommended you practice discussing your side of the case in front of another person (spouse, relative, neighbor, friend) so you get more comfortable speaking about it.
Before Filing a 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 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. Additionally, collection of funds after winning a judgment is not a guarantee. Drafting and sending a demand letter allows for both parties to explore the possibility of a settlement even before a case is filed. 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).
Does a Judge or Jury hear my case in Macon County Small Claims Court?
In Illinois, a small claims court case can be heard in front of a judge or a jury. You are encouraged to consult with an attorney prior to requesting 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. Requesting a jury trial also has additional costs for the party making the request.
How do I file a case in small claims court?
To begin a small claims case, the party needs to file a document with the court clerk called a complaint. A blank complaint can be obtained by contacting the court clerk’s office. The party filing the complaint to begin the court case is called the plaintiff. The defendant is the term that refers to the party being sued in the complaint.
How do I serve a party?
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. In Illinois, a corporation can be served on either an office of the corporation or its registered agent. A plaintiff should visit the Illinois Secretary of State website to obtain the addresses for the corporate entity (and registered agents).