Locations for Small Claims Court in Madison County
In Madison County, Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Madison County Courthouse 155 North Main Street Edwardsville, IL 62025
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:155 North Main Street Edwardsville, Illinois 62025-1955
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 618-692-6240
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 618-692-0676
What to Expect at a Madison County 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 court will also listen to any witness testimony and exhibits (documents) provided by either side. Plaintiffs present their side of the case 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).
After your Small Claims Court Case
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.
Small Claims Court Madison County
Small claims court is a special type of civil court where a party can file a case for $10,000 or less. Small claims court in Madison County uses simpler rules and procedures than regular civil court which allows cases to be tried or resolved quicker and by people who are not attorneys.
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. However, when a corporate entity is the plaintiff in a case, it is required to be represented by an attorney.
What kind of cases are handled in small claims court?
In Illinois, only certain types of cases are handled in small claims court:
- breach of contract
- property damage
- personal injury cases
- repossessions of personal property that was leased or purchased on credit
- garnishment actions brought against debtors
The most amount of money that a court can award in small claims court is $10,000 (plus court costs and fees).
Who hears my case in Madison County Small Claims Court
In Madison County, a small claims trial may be in front of a jury or a judge. 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.
What County Should a Small Claims Court Case be filed in?
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.
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. You should gather and bring anything that can support your side of the case including photographs, contracts, receipts, invoices, 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. Witnesses who support your side of the case should also be invited to court to provide testimony during the trial. Ensure the witness is aware of the exact date, time, and location of your small claims court case. If the witness refuses to attend the small claims court trial, then a subpoena for the witness’s attendance may be necessary.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case
A small claims court case begins with a party filing a document called the 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 party being sued in the complaint is called the defendant.
Who can sue in 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 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. If a defendant is a corporate entity, only certain officers or members of the corporation are allowed to represent it.
How do I serve a party?
After a complaint is filed, the next step is for the plaintiff to affect service of the complaint on the defendant(s). An individual can be served at their address. Service of a corporate entity can be slightly more complex. In Illinois, a corporation can be served on either an office of the corporation or its registered agent. This information can be obtained online at the Illinois Secretary of State website.
Before Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Madison County
Prior to a party filing a case, you are encouraged to contact the defendant by drafting and 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. Additionally, putting down your case in clear words is something a plaintiff will have to do anyways when a complaint is filed (and certainly done in preparation for the trial).