Removing the Case to District Court
Removing the case to regular district court allows both parties to be represented by attorneys but also removes the $6,000 limit. Moving the case to regular district court means the normal rules of evidence and discovery apply meaning the case will take much longer to resolve. A request for removal may be made by either the plaintiff or the defendant. To do so, a party needs to complete and file a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims, in the court where the case is set to be heard. The document needs to be filed before the small claims court trial or hearing. The Demand and Order for Removal is available on a website.
Court’s Ruling in a Small Claims Court Case
The court may make a decision at the hearing after both sides presented their evidence. Or, the judge or magistrate might take the matter under submission. If this occurs, then the court will notify both parties of the outcome (usually through mail).
Small Claims Court Case Types
Small Claims court handles civil cases where the amount in controversy (or dispute) is $6,000 or less. A court can only award money in a small claims court case. If a plaintiff (or defendant in a counter-claim) is seeking specific property or an order from the court requiring a person to take certain action, the case should not be filed in small claims court. Here are some examples of common types of small claims court cases:
- landlord and tenant dispute about the return of a security deposit
- Contractual dispute including performance or payment
- automobile accident where insurance isn’t available or does not cover the damages
The following cases cannot be filed in small claims court:
- Assault and Battery
- Any Intentional Harm or Damage
Service of a Defendant in Small Claims Court
Once the case is filed, the court will attempt to provide the defendant with proper notice of the case by giving the defendant a copy of the Affidavit and Claim form initially filled out by the plaintiff. The plaintiff must pay for this cost of service. Service is a way for the court to provide notice to the Defendant of your action so the Defendant can have proper time to respond and appear and provide a defense. Service can be made by either certified mail or in person.
Alcona County Small Claims Court
Small Claims court cases in Alcona County are filed in the 81st District Court. The 81st District Court handles a variety of cases including small claims court cases. A special branch of 81st District Court handles small claims court cases whose purpose is to settle and decide disputes concerning money without the use of attorneys or lawyers. A party does not need to know anything about the law to file a small claims court case. Attorneys are not allowed to appear in court or argue on behalf of clients in small claims court. A party does not need an attorney in small claims court (but can obviously consult with or talk to an attorney about their case if they want). In small claims court, a party need only present their own side of their case in their own words. Although it is called small claims court, it is a division of the 81st District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.
Who Listens to a Small Claims Court Case in Alcona County?
Juries are not allowed in small claims court cases. Small Claims Court cases are only heard in front of an attorney magistrate or a judge. An attorney magistrate is an attorney who has been appointed by the court to assist with certain types of cases and legal actions. In most instances, an attorney magistrate will hear your case.
Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing
You should gather all evidence well before the date of the hearing. Evidence could include a contract, a purchase order, a receipt, pictures, or videos related to the case. Both the plaintiff and the defendant will have a chance to present their side of the case to the court. It is strongly recommended you write out what you plan on saying before the hearing (at least an outline or bullet points). If you have witnesses who also have information that will support your position, you should make arrangements to have them present for the hearing so they can present testimony.
Alcona County Small Claims Court Hearings
The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present evidence first. The defendant presents his or her evidence once the plaintiff’s presentation of evidence is complete. If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the court can dismiss the case. If the defendant does not appear at the hearing, the court may issue a default judgment based on the evidence that the plaintiff presents.
Resolving a Case without a Hearing
Frequently, a court may attempt to resolve a case without an actual hearing. Mediation is the tool that a court may try to use to settle a case. During mediation, a mediator (which is an unbiased third party oftentimes with specific training on dispute resolution) will meet with both parties (separately or together) in the hopes of settling a case.
Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Alcona County
Small Claims Court cases in Alcona County are handled in the 81st District Court. 81st District Court is located at:PO Box 385 106 Fifth Street Harrisville, MI 48740
The phone number for Alcona County District Court is: (989) 724-9500. The District Court can be found online here.
Jurisdiction of Alcona County Small Claims Court
A case should be filed in the district court where the defendant resides, where the defendant’s business is located, or where the transaction involved in the case occurred. This is commonly called venue. Filing in the wrong district court can postpone your case being heard, force you to pay additional filing and service fees, and/or have your case be dismissed. The court staff of the 81st District Court cannot provide advice, but it can tell you the geographic location the court serves. It is recommended you contact the court clerk of the District Court to confirm you have the proper venue.
Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Alcona County?
Parties are not allowed to be represented by attorneys in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff or defendant is allowed to have an attorney represent them in the case. Each side is required to represent himself or herself in front of the court. Either side can request that the case be removed to regular district court where both sides can have an attorney. The disadvantage to this is that district court uses normal rules of discovery and presentation of evidence which means the case will take much longer to reach a conclusion.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Alcona County
The plaintiff needs to fill out a form to file a case in small claims court which can be found online. Once completed, the form needs to be filed with the 81st District Court clerk. When submitting the filing, the plaintiff will need to pay a filing fee. Filings fees for small claims court cases are:
- $30 – for claims up to $600
- $50 – for claims between $600 and $1,750
- $70 – for claims between $1,750 and up to $6,000
If the plaintiff prevails in the case, the court may allow the plaintiff to request the cost of the filing fee be added to the damages in the case (and ultimately paid by the defendant). After the case has been filed, the clerk can provide you with a court case number. You should keep this court case number handy as it will help you identify your case when you speak with court staff or complete paperwork associated with your case. The clerk should also provide you with the date, time, and location of the hearing.
Defendant’s Options in Small Claims Court Cases
A defendant has the following options after being sued in small claims court:
- Ignoring the Case (which could end up with the court issuing a default judgment against you)
- Settling the Case Outside of Court
- Transferring the Case out of Small Claims Court
- Appearing at the Court Hearing
How Much Money Can a Party Sue for in Small Claims Court?
In Michigan, the small claims court cannot award more than $6,000 to a party. If a plaintiff filed a case in small claims court that is worth more than six thousand dollars, the plaintiff can still choose to file the case in small claims court. However, if you do, the plaintiff loses the right to any amount over $6,000. The plaintiff also cannot file an additional case based on the same case to recover the excess amount.