Small Claims Court in Mackinac County
92nd District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Mackinac County. 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 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). In small claims court, a party need only present their own side of their case in their own words. Small claims court is a special division of 92nd District Court. The 92nd District Court handles other types of civil cases along with criminal cases.
Jurisdiction of Mackinac County Small Claims Court
A case should be filed in the district court where the defendant resides, where the defendant’s business is located, or where the transaction involved in the case 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.
Court’s Ruling in a Small Claims Court Case
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.
How do I file a Small Claims court case in Mackinac 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. 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 allow the plaintiff to request the cost of the filing fee be added to the damages in the case (and ultimately paid by the defendant). After the case has been filed, the clerk can 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. The clerk should also provide you with the date, time, and location of the hearing.
Small Claims Court Case Removal to District Court
Removing the case to regular district court allows both parties to be represented by attorneys but also removes the $6,000 limit. 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 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.
What kind of cases can be filed 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
Small claims court does not handle the following types of cases:
- Assault and Battery
- Any action based on intentional harm or damages
What is the maximum amount of money that a Small Claims Court can Award in Mackinac County?
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. 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.
Mackinac County Small Claims Court Hearing Preparations
Both parties should gather all evidence well before the hearing. This could include copies of contracts, purchase agreements, checks, photographs or videos. Both the plaintiff and the defendant will have a chance to present their side of the case to the court. It is strongly recommended you write out what you plan on saying before the hearing (at least an outline or bullet points). Also, if there are any witnesses besides yourself who have information that would support your position, you should arrange to have them present at the hearing so they can present testimony to the court.
Who Hears My Case in Mackinac 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. An attorney magistrate is an attorney who has been appointed by the court to assist with certain types of cases and legal actions. Due to judicial funding, oftentimes, an attorney magistrate is used to hear a large portion of small claims court cases.
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. In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff is also responsible for paying the cost of service of the defendant. Service is how the defendant learns of the lawsuit and when the case will be heard. The court uses personal service or certified mail to provide proper notice to the defendant.
Can an attorney represent me in my Mackinac 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. Both parties are required to represent themselves at the hearing. Either side can request that the case be removed to regular district court where both sides can have 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.
Hearings in Mackinac County Small Claims Court
The plaintiff presents his or her evidence first. 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.
Small Claims Court Locations in Mackinac County
Small Claims Court cases in Mackinac County are handled in the 92nd District Court. 92nd District Court is located at:Mackinac County Courthouse 100 Marley St. St. Ignace, MI 49781
The phone number for Mackinac County District Court is: (906) 643-7321. The Mackinac County District Court can be found online here.
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. 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.
What Options does a Defendant have in Small Court Cases?
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)