Does a Whiteside County Small Claims Court Jury or Judge?
Whiteside 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. 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. Additionally, a jury trial costs additional money for the party requesting it.
Small Claims Court Locations for Whiteside County
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Whiteside County Courthouse 200 E. Knox Street Morrison, IL 61270-2698
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:200 East Knox Street Morrison, Illinois 61270-2819
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 815-772-5188
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 815-772-5187
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. In the case of a traffic collision, it would be the county where the traffic collision occurred.
How do I file a case in small claims court?
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 to begin the court case is called the plaintiff. The party that the plaintiff is trying to recover money from is called the defendant.
Who can sue in small claims court?
Any individual or corporation doing business in Illinois can both sue and be sued in small claims court. If someone is under eighteen, the court may appoint a guardian to act on behalf of the minor. 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.
Am I Able to Have an Attorney 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. But, corporate entities that are the plaintiffs are required to be represented by an attorney.
Small Claims Court Trial Preparation
A party preparing for a small claims court trial should prepare the case to make a clear, understandable presentation to a judge. Bring documents, photographs, contracts, receipts, or anything else that supports your position. It is useful to prepare a short chronology of the dates and times of the events in your case. 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). Witnesses who support your side of the case should also be invited to court to provide testimony during the trial. You should make sure any witness you need is aware of the location of the court (including courtroom number) and the time and date of the trial. If the person refuses to come to court, you may need to take steps to issue a subpoena for them to attend.
Serving a Party in Whiteside County Small Claims Court
After filing the complaint, the plaintiff needs to arrange for it to be served. If the party is an individual, service is easy. Service of a corporate entity can be slightly more complex. In the State of Illinois, a corporate entity can be served on a corporation’s office 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).
Small Claims Court in Whiteside County
In Whiteside County, small claims court allows a plaintiff to bring a case if the amount is $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.
Before Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Whiteside County
Prior to a party filing a case, you are encouraged to contact the defendant by drafting and sending a demand letter. Demand letters are a written summary explaining the facts surrounding your case and why you are entitled to money (which should be drafted in a polite, clear, concise way). Sending a demand letter is recommended because filing a case and resolving it in court often takes time. Additionally, collection of funds after winning a judgment is not a guarantee. If there is a chance you can resolve the case without filing in small claims court, it is a worthwhile step to take. 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).
What Types of Cases are handled in Whiteside 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
- repossessions of personal property that was leased or purchased on credit
- garnishment actions brought against debtors
A small claims court can only award a party $10,000 (plus court costs and fees).
What happens after the Small Claims Court Trial?
If the court rules in favor of the plaintiff, it will issue a judgment of monetary damages. 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.
What Happens at a Small Claims Court Trial
In a court trial, the judge will decide the facts of your case and will listen to the evidence provided by the plaintiff and the defendant. The court will also listen to any witness testimony and exhibits (documents) provided by either side. 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.