Presque Isle County Small Claims Court
89th District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Presque Isle 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. Neither the plaintiff not the defendant need to know anything about the law in order to utilize small claims court. Attorneys are not allowed to appear in court or argue on behalf of clients 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 89th District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.
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. 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:
- Traffic Collisions
- Tenant and landlord disputes over a security deposit
- Cases concerning contractual terms, performance, and payment
Small claims court does not handle the following types of cases:
- Assault and Battery
- Any action based on intentional harm or damages
Removal of a Small Claims Court Case to 89th 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. 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 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 Demand and Order for Removal is available on a website.
Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing
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). You should also try and arrange for any witnesses which support your position to be present in court at the hearing to present testimony.
Resolving a Case without a Hearing
Often, a court may try to settle or resolve a case short of an actual trial. This can be done through a process called mediation. 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.
How is a Defendant served 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. In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff is also responsible for paying the cost of service of the defendant. Service is how the court ensures the defendant has notice of the nature of the lawsuit and the hearing date. The court uses personal service or certified mail to provide proper notice to the defendant.
Is there a Monetary Limit for Small Claims Court Cases in Presque Isle 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.
What Options does a Defendant have in Small Court Cases?
A defendant has the following options after being sued in small claims court:
- Removing the case to Regular District Court
- Appearing at the Court Hearing
- Ignoring the Case (which may end up in a court issuing a default judgment against you)
- Settling the Case
Is a Jury Available in a Presque Isle County Small Claims Court Case?
Small Claims Court cases do not use juries. 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. Generally, attorney magistrates are used to hear small claims court cases.
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). The court may also take the case under submission (and rule at a later time). If a matter is taken under submission, the court will notify both parties of the ruling (likely through mail).
Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Presque Isle County
Presque Isle County Small Claims Court cases are handled in the 89th District Court. 89th District Court is located at:PO Box 110 Presque Isle County Building 151 E. Huron Rogers City, MI 49779
The phone number for Presque Isle County District Court is: (989) 734-2411. The District Court can be found online here.
Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Presque Isle 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 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 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.
Hearings in Presque Isle County Small Claims Court
Plaintiff usually is given the first chance to present evidence. The defendant presents his or her evidence once the plaintiff’s presentation of evidence is complete. The court may dismiss the case if the plaintiff fails to appear. The court may enter a default judgment is the defendant fails to appear at the hearing.
Jurisdiction of Presque Isle 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. Where the case is filed is 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.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Presque Isle 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 89th 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 is successful in the case, the court could add the cost of the filing fee to the damages in the case. Once the case has been filed, the clerk should provide you with the 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.