Dutchess County Small Claims Court
Jury Trials in Small Claims Court
Only the defendant can demand a jury trial in small claims court cases. This demand can be made at any time prior to the hearing date. An affidavit (sworn statement) has to be filed which identifies the factual issues a jury is needed to hear. The judge will then decide whether the case will remain in small claims court or be transferred to the regular civil part. If the case remains in small claims court, only six jurors are used.
How do I file a counterclaim against the plaintiff?
A defendant may file a counterclaim against a plaintiff. If the counterclaim is filed within five days of being served with the initial claim, the hearing date remains the same. There is a $3 filing fee. A defendant can file a counterclaim after the five day window, however, the plaintiff can ask for a later hearing date (to allow the plaintiff to prepare to respond to the counterclaim) or the court may set a later hearing date on its own.
How do I find the correct name for the Defendant?
For people, you will want the person’s first and last name (their real name, and not a nickname they go by). You will also have to provide their address. You should make it a habit to collect this information from all people you deal with. Businesses are more tricky because sometimes you do not know how the business is structured. The staff at the Dutchess County Clerk’s Office can help provide you with the proper business name (we recommend contacting them before you go to court so you do not worry about it once you are there).
Can I hire an attorney to represent me in small claims court?
You are not required to hire an attorney for a small claims court case. In fact, the rules and procedures are designed to be informal so that you should not have to retain an attorney. A plaintiff or defendant can choose to hire an attorney if he or she chooses. Sometimes, when a plaintiff and a defendant have both retained attorneys, the court can transfer the case from small claims to the regular civil part.
What happens if I don’t show up for the hearing?
If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the case is dismissed. If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the court may grant a default judgment based on the evidence that the plaintiff presented. The Court will wait approximately one hour (in case you are simply running late) before granting a default judgment.
Am I eligible to sue in small claims court?
Small clams court is open to any party who is a person 18 years of age or older. If someone is younger than 18, a parent or legal guardian is able to bring an action on behalf of the minor. Corporations, partnerships, and other corporate entities must bring their action in Commercial Claims Court and are not able to act as plaintiffs in small claims court. These corporate entities are able to be sued in small claims court. When a corporate entity is sued, it can authorize an employee, director, or attorney to appear and defend it in court.
Can I ask for a continuance?
In small claims court cases, a continuance can also be called an adjournment. These are discouraged as the purpose of small claims court is a quick, efficient way of resolving disputes. Only the court can grant a continuance. You can ask for an adjournment by sending a letter to the court before your hearing date. You should also send a copy of the letter to the other party. A party may also request a continuance on the actual hearing date, but a judge may be inclined to deny this request (and you should be prepared to go forward if the judge does not grant one).
Small Claims Court Locations in Dutchess County
Every town and village of Dutchess County has its own small claims court to handle cases arising in that location. Dutchess County has 27 locations to handle small claims court cases for the following villages and towns: Amenia Town, Beekman Town, Clinton Town, Dover Town, East Fishkill Town, Fishkill Town, Fishkill Village, Hyde Park Town, LaGrange Town, Milan Town, Millbrook Village, North East Town, Pawling Town, Pawling Village, Pine Plains Town, Pleasant Valley Town, Poughkeepsie Town, Red Hook Town, Red Hook Village, Rhinebeck Town, Rhinebeck Village, Stanford Town, Tivoli Village, Union Vale Town, Wappinger Town, Wappingers Falls Village, and Washington Town.
The small claims court locations are:
Amenia Town Court4988 Route 22 Amenia, NY 12501
Beekman Town Court4 Main Street Poughquag, NY 12570
Clinton Town Court12 15 Centre Road Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Dover Town Court126 East Duncan Hill Road Dover Plains, NY 12522
East Fishkill Town Court330 Route 376 Town Hall Hopewell Junction, NY 12533
Fishkill Town Court807 Route 52 Fishkill, NY 12524
Fishkill Village Court1095 Main Street Fishkill, NY 12524
Hyde Park Town Court1 Cardinal Road Hyde Park, NY 12538
LaGrange Town Court120 Stringham Road Lagrangeville, NY 12540
Milan Town Court20 Wilcox Circle Milan, NY 12571
Millbrook Village CourtMerritt Avenue PO Box 349 Millbrook, NY 12545
North East Town CourtMaple Avenue PO Box 516 Millerton, NY 12546
Pawling Town Court160 Charles Coleman Blvd Pawling, NY 12564
Pawling Village Court9 Memorial Avenue Pawling, NY 12564
Pine Plains Town Court3284 State Route 199 P.O .Box 320 Pine Plains, NY 12567
Pleasant Valley Town CourtRoute 44, Main Street Town Hall Pleasant Valley, NY 12569
Poughkeepsie Town Court17 Tucker Road Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Red Hook Town Court7340 South Broadway Red Hook, NY 12571
Red Hook Village Court7467 South Broadway Red Hook, NY 12571
Rhinebeck Town Court80 East Market Street Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Rhinebeck Village Court76 East Market Street Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Stanford Town Court26 Town Hall Road Town Hall P.O. Box 436 Stanfordville, NY 12581
Tivoli Village Court86 Broadway PO Box 397 Tivoli, NY 12583
Union Vale Town Court249 Duncan Road Town Hall, Tymor Park Lagrangeville, NY 12540
Wappinger Town Court20 Middlebush Road Town Hall Wappingers Falls, NY 12590
Wappingers Falls Village Court7 Mill Street Wappingers Falls, NY 12590
Washington Town CourtReservoir Drive PO Box 667 Millbrook, NY 12545
Arbitration of Small Claims Court Cases in Dutchess County
Abitration is a type of dispute resolution that is less-formal than a trial, but more formal than mediation. At an arbitration, an arbitrator (who is usually, but not always, an experienced attorney) will allow each side to present their case. He or she will then weigh the evidence and issue a final judgment. Arbitration can only be used when all parties agree (as the outcome is binding on all parties). If you do choose arbitration, your case can be heard far quicker than waiting for a judge to hear it (which is something to keep in mind if you want a quick resolution to your case). The arbitrator uses the exact same law the judge would follow. When an arbitrator decides your case, the decision is final. There is no appeal-by either party.
What is mediation?
Mediation is an attempt to settle your case without a trial. It is a consifential way to resolve the case. Mediation involved a person acting as a mediator who will try and bring opposing parties to an agreement that all the parties can agree to. In Dutchess County, mediation services are provided by:
Mediation Center of Dutchess County, Inc.
147 Union Street, Suite 102