Alpena County Small Claims Court, Michigan


Who Hears My Case in Alpena County Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court cases do not use juries. 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

Before the hearing, parties should gather all documents, papers, and other evidence related to the case. Evidence could include a contract, a purchase order, a receipt, pictures, or videos related to the case. Both sides will be given the opportunity to present their case. It is advised that you write out what you plan on saying to the court about your case in advance (to help focus in on what is really important). Also, if there are any witnesses besides yourself who have information that would support your position, you should arrange to have them present at the hearing so they can present testimony to the court.

Alpena County Small Claims Court Jurisdiction

A Small Claims Court case needs to be filed where the defendant’s home is, where the defendant’s business is located (if you are suing a business), or where the transaction or event that the case arose from occurred. Where the case is filed is 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 88th 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.

Alpena County Small Claims Court

Alpena County Small Claims Court

Alpena County Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court cases in Alpena County Michigan are heard in 88th District Court. A special branch of 88th District Court handles small claims court cases whose purpose is to settle and decide disputes concerning money without the use of attorneys or lawyers. Small claims court is designed so that a normal person (non-lawyer) can successfully use the court to hear their case. In small claims court in Michigan, attorneys are not allowed to argue cases for clients. Neither party needs to hire an attorney for small claims court cases (but can consult with one for questions about their case). A party simply states the case in their own words. Small claims court is a division of 88th District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.

Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Alpena County?

Attorneys or lawyers are not allowed in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff nor defendant can be represented by an attorney in small claims court. Each side is required to represent themselves in front of the judge or magistrate. Either side can request that the case be removed to regular district court (which means either side could then be represented by 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.

Ruling After a Small Claims Court Hearing

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 happens, the court will probably notify the parties through mail.

Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Alpena 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 88th District Court clerk. Along with the filing, the plaintiff must pay a filing fee which varies based on the amount of the claim. 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 is successful in the case, the court could add the cost of the filing fee to the damages in the case. Once the case has been filed, the clerk should provide you with the case number. Keep the court case number as you will use it anytime you contact the court about your case (or complete any additional paperwork about your case). Along with the court case number, the clerk should provide you with the location, date, and time of the hearing for your case.

How is a Defendant served in a Small Claims Court Case?

The court will provide a copy of the Affidavit and Claim that you filed to the Defendant. The plaintiff is required to pay the court for the cost of service of the defendant. Service is how the defendant learns of the lawsuit and when the case will be heard. Service can be made by either certified mail or in person.

Small Claims Court Case Removal to District Court

Removal of a case to regular district court allows both parties to hire an attorney (if they so choose) and also removes the $6,000 limit that the court can award. Removal to district court means the normal rules and procedures apply including specifically procedures related to the presentation of evidence and discovery process. 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.

What is the maximum amount of money that a Small Claims Court can Award in Alpena County?

Small Claims courts 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. If they do, the party waives their right to recover any amount above six thousand. The plaintiff also cannot file an additional case based on the same case to recover the excess amount.

Resolving a Case without a Hearing

Often, a court may try to settle or resolve a case short of an actual trial. Mediation is the method by which a court tries to settle a case without a hearing or trial. In mediation, a mediator will meet with both parties, discuss the case, and try and work towards an agreement that both sides can live with in the hopes of resolving the case without a trial.

Hearings in Alpena County Small Claims Court

The plaintiff presents his or her evidence first. The defendant presents his or her evidence once the plaintiff’s presentation of evidence is complete. If the plaintiff does not show up for the hearing, the court will likely 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.

Alpena County Small Claims Court Location

Small Claims Court cases in Alpena County are handled in the 88th District Court. 88th District Court

Alpena County Office Building
719 Chisholm St.
Alpena, MI 49707

The phone number for Alpena County District Court is: (989) 354-9678. The District Court can be found online here.

Types of Cases in Small Claims Court

Civil cases where a party is seeking $6,000 or less can be filed in small claims court. A party can only ask for money in small claims court. If a plaintiff wants specific property or the court to make an order regarding specific performance, small claims court is not the property place to file the case. Common types of cases handled in small claims court include the following:

  • Traffic Collisions
  • Tenant and landlord disputes over a security deposit
  • Cases concerning contractual terms, performance, and payment

Small claims court does not handle the following types of cases:

  • Assault and Battery
  • Slander
  • Libel
  • Any action based on intentional harm or damages

Defendant’s Options in Small Claims Court Cases

After being served with an Affidavit and Claim of a small claims court case, the defendant has the following options:

  • Removing the case to Regular District Court
  • Appearing at the Court Hearing
  • Ignoring the Case (which may end up in a court issuing a default judgment against you)
  • Settling the Case