Cortland County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court Lingo
The party is a person, business, or other entity involved in a court case (on either side of the “v.” in the case name). A plaintiff (sometimes called claimant) is the person who initiates or begins the lawsuit. The defendant is the party who is being sued. In certain cases, a third party (ie. not the plaintiff or defendant) is brought into a case (usually by a defendant who feels the third party is partly responsible for the damage to plaintiff). If you are the defendant and are interested in bringing in a third party, contact the court involved with your action about beginning a third party action.
Appeals for Small Claims Court Cases
A party has 30 days from the date of the judgment to file a notice of appeal (or 35 days if you were mailed the court’s judgment). There are fees for filing a notice of appeal as well as additional costs for purchasing a transcript (if a court reporter was present). Consult with an attorney when you are deciding if you should file an appeal. An appellate court will only reverse a small claims court judgment if the ruling meets the “clearly erroneous” standard. This is why we recommend consulting an attorney to determine if an appeal is appropriate.
How do I get a continuance?
Do I have to hire an attorney?
You are not required to hire an attorney for a small claims court case. The procedures and rules for small claims court are actually designed to be simple and informal so that a party does not have to hire an attorney and should be able to represent themselves. That said, you may choose to hire an attorney to represent you. If attorneys are representing parties on both sides of the v, (plaintiff and defendant), the court may transfer the case to the regular civil part.
What about a jury trial for a small claims court case in Cortland County?
A defendant (and only a defendant) can request a jury trial for a small claims court case. The demand must be made prior to the actual hearing date. The defendant has to fill out, under oath, a statement identifying which issues the jury will consider. The judge will then decide whether the case will remain in small claims court or be transferred to the regular civil part. If it remains in small claims court, a jury will be used, but it will consist of only six members.
Small Claims Court Cases in Cortland County
In Cortland County, small claims court cases are heard in the local town or village court. The limit a plaintiff can ask for is $3,000. These cases are designed to be resolved informally (so a party does not have to hire an attorney). Note: If you have a claim for more than $3,000, you cannot separate it into two claims to be under the limit. A claimant or plantiff can only seek monetary relief in small claims court. You cannot sue someone to force a person or business to perform a task (like fix a car) or return a personal item. Money is the only remedy available (on claims and counterclaims). A party may sue a municipality or other public entity. The law requires you to file a claim with that entity within 90 days of the incident which gives rise to your claim. If you do not do this, your case can be dismissed.
Mediation of Small Claims Court Cases in Cortland County
Mediation is a confidential, non-binding dispute resolution program in which an impartial mediator attempts to bring both parties together to a mutually acceptable outcome. A judge may refer a case to mediation if both parties agree. In Cortland County, the program used for mediation is: