Small Claims Court Case Removal 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. In order to do this, a party needs to complete and file a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims with the court clerk. The document needs to be filed before the small claims court trial or hearing. The document can be found online.
Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing
Before the hearing, parties should gather all documents, papers, and other evidence related to the case. 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. 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). 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.
Ionia 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. The location of the filing is often 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?
A small claims court in Ionia County cannot award a party more than $6,000 (not including court costs and other fees). 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 is also precluded from suing again based on the same case after the case has been decided.
Is a Jury Available in a Ionia County Small Claims Court Case?
Juries are not allowed in small claims court cases. Cases in small claims court are heard by either a district judge or an attorney magistrate. Attorney Magistrates are attorneys that have been appointed by the court to assist the court with a variety of legal matters (including hearing small court cases). In most instances, an attorney magistrate will hear your case.
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).
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 tool that a court may try to use to settle a case. A mediator will meet with both parties and attempt to find some common ground for resolving the claim without a trial.
Ionia County Small Claims Court Location
64A District Court handles small claims court cases in Ionia County. 64A District CourtIonia County 101 W. Main St. Ionia, MI 48846
The phone number for Ionia County District Court is: (616) 527-5344. The 64A District Court can be foundonline.
Ionia County Small Claims Court Hearings
Plaintiff usually is given the first chance to present evidence. The defendant will then have the chance to present their side. 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.
Option for a Defendant After Being Sued in Small Claims Court
After being served with an Affidavit and Claim of a small claims court case, the defendant has the following options:
- 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
Ionia County Small Claims Court Cases
Small Claims court cases in Ionia County are filed in the 64A District Court. The 64A District Court handles a variety of cases including small claims court cases. A special branch of 64A 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. Attorneys cannot represent parties in small claims court. 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. Although it is called small claims court, it is a division of the 64A District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.
How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Ionia 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 64A District Court clerk. When submitting the filing, the plaintiff will need to pay a filing fee. 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. 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. 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 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. The court uses personal service or certified mail to provide proper notice to the defendant.
Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Ionia 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 himself or herself in front of the court. 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.
Small Claims Court Case Types
Small Claims court handles civil cases where the amount in controversy (or dispute) is $6,000 or less. Money is the only remedy a party can ask for in small claims court. 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. Common types of cases handled in small claims court include the following:
- 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