Ruling After a Small Claims Court Hearing
The court can make a decision at the time of the hearing (after both sides have presented their case). Or, the judge or magistrate might take the matter under submission. If this happens, the court will probably notify the parties through mail.
Calhoun County Small Claims Court Cases
Small Claims Court cases in Calhoun County Michigan are heard in 10th District Court. A special branch of 10th 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 cannot represent parties in small claims court. Because of this, a party does not need an attorney. At the hearing, a party is only expected to present their case in their own words. Small claims court is a special division of 10th District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.
Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Calhoun County
10th District Court handles small claims court cases in Calhoun County. 10th District Court is located at:Calhoun County Justice Center 161 E. Michigan Ave. Battle Creek, MI 49014
The phone number for Calhoun County District Court is: (269) 969-6726. The District Court can be found online here.
What is the maximum amount of money that a Small Claims Court can Award in Calhoun County?
Small Claims courts cannot award more than $6,000 to a party. If a plaintiff filed a case in small claims court that the plaintiff believes is worth more, the case can still be filed in small claims court. However, if you do, the plaintiff loses the right to any amount over $6,000. The plaintiff is also precluded from suing again based on the same case after the case has been decided.
Can I have an attorney Represent me in Small Claims Court?
Parties are not allowed to be represented by attorneys 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 himself or herself in front of the court. Either the plaintiff or the defendant can request that the case be removed to regular district court from small claims court (which would allow either side to utilize the services of 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.
Serving the Defendant 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 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. Courts utilize both personal service and service by certified mail.
Who Listens to a Small Claims Court Case in Calhoun County?
Small Claims Court cases do not use juries. A small claims court case is heard by either a judge or an attorney magistrate. 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.
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:
- 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 action based on intentional harm or damages
Defendant’s Options in Small Claims Court Cases
A defendant has the following options after being sued in small claims court:
- 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)
Hearings in Calhoun County Small Claims Court
Plaintiff usually is given the first chance to present evidence. The defendant will then have the chance to present their side. The court may dismiss the case if the plaintiff fails to appear. If the defendant does not appear at the hearing, the court may issue a default judgment based on the evidence that the plaintiff presents.
Calhoun 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 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). You should also try and arrange for any witnesses which support your position to be present in court at the hearing to present testimony.
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). Removal to district court means the normal rules and procedures apply including specifically procedures related to the presentation of evidence and discovery process. Either the plaintiff or defendant can decide to remove the case from the small claims court division to the regular district court. To accomplish this, a party should fill out and file with the court clerk a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims. This document needs to be filed prior to the small claims court trial or hearing and can actually be filed the same day (so long as it is before the hearing starts). The form can be found here.
How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Calhoun County
A party wishing to file a small claims court case needs to complete a form(print out and complete). Once filled out, the plaintiff needs to file the form with the 10th 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 has been filed, the clerk should provide you with the case number. It is important to keep this case number with you to use each time you contact the court clerk or any court staff as it will help them identify 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.
Settling a Small Claims Court
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.
Jurisdiction of Calhoun County Small Claims Court
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. While court staff cannot provide legal advice, it is recommended you contact the court clerk of the District Court to confirm that the court’s jurisdiction covers the geographic area needed for your case.