Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Lenawee County?
Attorneys or lawyers are not allowed in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff or defendant is allowed to have an attorney represent them in the case. 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). 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 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.
Lenawee County Small Claims Court Location
2A District Court handles small claims court cases in Lenawee County. 2A District Court is located at:Rex B Martin Judicial Bldg 425 N. Main Street Adrian, MI 49221
The phone number for Lenawee County District Court is: (517) 264-4673. The Lenawee County District Court can be found online here.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Lenawee County
The forms for a plaintiff to fill out to begin a small claims court case can be found here. The form needs to be filed with the 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 prevails in the case, the court may award the filing fee to the plaintiff as part of the costs of the action. After the case has been filed, the clerk can 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.
What Happens at a Small Claims Court Hearing
The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present evidence first. 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.
Lenawee County Small Claims Court Cases
2A District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Lenawee 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. Small claims court is designed so that a normal person (non-lawyer) can successfully use the court to hear their case. Attorneys are not allowed to appear in court or argue on behalf of clients 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 2A District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.
Removing the Case 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. Moving the case to regular district court means the normal rules of evidence and discovery apply meaning the case will take much longer to resolve. A request for removal may be made by either the plaintiff or the defendant. To accomplish this, a party should fill out and file with the court clerk a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims. 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.
Jurisdiction of Lenawee County Small Claims Court
A plaintiff should file the small claims court case in the district court where the defendant lives, where the defendant’s business is located, or where the transactions (that are at issue) occurred. The location of the filing is often 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 2A 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.
Ruling After a Small Claims Court 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).
Is a Jury Available in a Lenawee County Small Claims Court Case?
Small Claims Court cases do not use juries. 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). Due to judicial funding, oftentimes, an attorney magistrate is used to hear a large portion of small claims court cases.
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. A mediator will meet with both parties and attempt to find some common ground for resolving the claim without a trial.
What kind of cases can be filed in small claims court?
Small claims court only handles civil cases where the amount in dispute is $6,000 or less. 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. Usually, these are the most common types of cases filed and heard in small claims court:
- 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
Small claims court does not handle the following types of cases:
- Any intentional harm
- Assault and Battery
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 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. But, if the plaintiff does so, he or she gives up the right to recover anything more than that amount. Additionally, the plaintiff is precluded from filing another case to ask for the amount above the threshold.
Option for a Defendant After Being Sued in Small Claims Court
A defendant has the following options after being sued in small claims court:
- 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
Preparing for a Hearing in Small Claims Court
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.