Preparing for a Hearing in Small Claims Court
You should gather all evidence well before the date of the hearing. This includes any contracts, written agreements, receipts, photographs, or videos that involve the subject matter of your case. Both sides will be given the opportunity to present their case. 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.
Charlevoix County Small Claims Court Cases
90th District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Charlevoix County. Small Claims court is a special type of court with a purpose of allowing people to settle their disputes over 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. In small claims court in Michigan, attorneys are not allowed to argue cases for clients. Because of this, a party does not need an attorney. A party simply states the case in their own words. Although it is called small claims court, it is a division of the 90th District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Charlevoix County Small Claims Court Hearings
Plaintiff usually is given the first chance to present evidence. The defendant presents their side of the case after the plaintiff. The court may dismiss the case if the plaintiff fails to appear. If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the court can issue what is called a default judgment based on the case the plaintiff present.
Court’s Ruling in a Small Claims Court Case
The court may make a decision at the hearing after both sides presented their evidence. The court can also take the matter under submission. If a matter is taken under submission, the court will notify both parties of the ruling (likely through mail).
How do I file a Small Claims court case in Charlevoix County?
The forms for a plaintiff to fill out to begin a small claims court case can be found here. Once completed, the form needs to be filed with the 90th District Court clerk. When submitting the filing, the plaintiff will need to pay a filing fee. The filing fees 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). Along with the court case number, the clerk should provide you with the location, date, and time of the hearing for your case.
Who Hears My Case in Charlevoix County Small Claims Court
Juries are not allowed in small claims court cases. A small claims court case is heard by either a judge or an attorney magistrate. Attorney magistrates are attorneys who have been appointed by the court to handle certain legal matters. Due to judicial funding, oftentimes, an attorney magistrate is used to hear a large portion of small claims court cases.
What Options does a Defendant have in Small 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)
Small Claims Court Case Types
Civil cases where a party is seeking $6,000 or less can be filed in small claims court. A court can only award money in a small claims court case. 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 Intentional Harm or Damage
Charlevoix County Small Claims Court Location
Small Claims Court cases in Charlevoix County are handled in the 90th District Court. 90th District Court is located at:Charlevoix County Building 301 State St. Charlevoix, MI 49720
The phone number for Charlevoix County District Court is: (231) 547-7227. The 90th District Court can be foundonline.
Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Charlevoix County?
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 side can request that the case be removed to regular district court where both sides can have an attorney. However, regular district court follows the normal rules of evidence and procedures which mean the dispute will likely take significantly longer to resolve.
Serving the Defendant in a Small Claims Court Case
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 is required to pay the court for the cost of service of the defendant. 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. The court uses personal service or certified mail to provide proper notice to the defendant.
Settling a Case Without a Small Claims Court Trial
Frequently, a court may attempt to resolve a case without an actual hearing. 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.
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 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 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. This is commonly called venue. If a case is filed in the wrong location, it will delay your case being actually decided and may result in having to pay a second filing fee or having the case dismiss your first case. 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.
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 party chooses to file their case in small claims court which is worth more than six thousand dollars, the party 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.