Can an attorney represent me in my Antrim County Small Claims Court Case?
Attorneys or lawyers are not allowed in small claims court. Neither side is allowed to have an attorney represent them. 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 downside to this is that regular district court utilizes the normal rules of evidence and discovery which means your case will take longer to resolve.
Hearings in Antrim County Small Claims Court
Plaintiff usually is given the first chance to present evidence. The defendant presents their side of the case after the plaintiff. If the plaintiff does not show up for the hearing, the court will likely dismiss the case. The court may enter a default judgment is the defendant fails to appear at the hearing.
Option for a Defendant After Being Sued in Small Claims Court
Once a defendant has been served, the following options are available:
- Settling the case outside of court
- Removing or Transferring the Case to Regular District Court
- Appearing at the Small Claims Court Hearing
- Ignoring the case (and having the court issue a default at the hearing)
Service of a Defendant in Small Claims Court
After the case is filed, the court will make attempts to provide the defendant with a copy of the Affidavit and Claim (that the plaintiff filled out). The plaintiff is required to pay the court for the cost of service of the defendant. Service is how the court ensures the defendant has notice of the nature of the lawsuit and the hearing date. Courts utilize both personal service and service by certified mail.
Antrim County Small Claims Court Location
Small Claims Court cases in Antrim County are handled in the 86th District Court. 86th District CourtPO Box 597 Antrim County Building 205 Cayuga Bellaire, MI 49615
The phone number for Antrim County District Court is: (231) 533-6441. The Antrim County District Court can be found online here.
Is there a Monetary Limit for Small Claims Court Cases in Antrim 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. But, if the plaintiff does so, he or she gives up the right to recover anything more than that amount. The plaintiff also cannot file an additional case based on the same case to recover the excess amount.
Antrim County Small Claims Court Cases
Small Claims Court cases in Antrim County Michigan are heard in 86th District Court. Small claims court is a special court in Michigan designed for people to settle monetary disputes without the aid of attorneys. 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). A party simply states the case in their own words. Small claims court is a division of 86th District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Antrim County Small Claims Court Hearing Preparations
You should gather all evidence well before the date of the hearing. This could include copies of contracts, purchase agreements, checks, photographs or videos. Both the plaintiff and defendant will have the chance to present evidence to the court. You should write out or prepare what you plan on saying ahead of time. 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.
Who Hears My Case in Antrim County Small Claims Court
Juries are not available for a small claims court case. Cases in small claims court are heard by either a district judge or an attorney magistrate. Attorney magistrates are attorneys who have been appointed by the court to handle certain legal matters. Generally, attorney magistrates are used to hear small claims court cases.
Removing the Case to District Court
Removal is the legal name for transferring the case from small claims court to regular district court (which allows either side to be represented by an attorney and removes the $6,000 limit of small claims court). If the case is removed, it also means the process will be much lengthier as the normal rules of evidence and discovery will now apply. Either party can request to move the case out of small claims court. 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. This must be filed before the hearing starts, but can actually be filed the day of the hearing or anytime before the hearing. The document can be found online.
Where Should a case be filed?
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. The location of the filing is often called venue. If a plaintiff files in the wrong district court, it will postpone your case being heard and may result in you paying multiple filing fees or even having the incorrectly filed case being dismissed by the court. The court staff of the 86th 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.
How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Antrim County
A party wishing to file a small claims court case needs to complete a form(print out and complete). Once completed, the form needs to be filed with the 86th District Court clerk. The plaintiff will also have to pay a filing fee when filing a case. The fees for filing a small claims court case 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 award the filing fee to the plaintiff as part of the costs of the action. Once the case is filed, the court clerk should provide you with a court 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). In addition to the case number, you should also be provided with the date, time, and location of the court hearing for your case.
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. Money is the only remedy a party can ask for 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. Here are some examples of common types of small claims court cases:
- Contract disputes including payment or performance
- Car accidents where insurance is not covering the damages
- Tenant and landlord disputes over the return of security deposit
The following cases cannot be filed in small claims court:
- Assault and Battery
- Any Intentional Harm or Damage
Will a Decision be made at the Hearing?
The magistrate or judge could make a decision at the hearing after the presentation of evidence. The court can also take the matter under submission. If this occurs, then the court will notify both parties of the outcome (usually through mail).
Resolving a Case without a Hearing
Oftentimes the court may try to settle a court case without a hearing. This can be done through a process called mediation. A mediator will meet with both parties and attempt to find some common ground for resolving the claim without a trial.