Herkimer County Small Claims Court
Can I ask for a continuance?
How do I begin a Small Claims Court case?
You must file your case in the correct location (where the defendant lives or if the defendant is a business than where the business has an open office). The court will provide you with the necessary forms to be filled out. The forms will ask for a statement of your case. The statement should be brief and include a description of the incident that is the basis of your claim. You should include all important names and dates. If your claim arises under property damage or a contract, you may claim interest on top of your damages. A court will generally have a clerk who is available to assist with questions regarding the forms (and answer other questions). If a court does not have a clerk, generally the judge is available to help you with these questions.
The clerk will provide the time and date for the small claims court hearing. The clerk will “give notice” to the defendant of the case which includes the statement of the case as you wrote it and the date and time of the hearing. This is called serving the defendant. The clerk sends the notice via certified and first-class mail. Once 21 days have passed, the defendant is deemed “served” unless the first-class item was returned undeliverable. If the defendant cannot be served by mail, the clerk can provide you with instructions on how to serve the defendant personally (the clerk will give you a new hearing date and time). Due Process (a fancy way of saying fairness) requires that the defendant be served prior to a hearing on your case. The court will dismiss the case if the defendant cannot be served within four months. However, if you learn new information of the defendant’s location, you can refile in that court (or the new court where the defendant is now located).
Can 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.
Can I hire an attorney?
You do not have to hire an attorney to represent you in small claims court (even if you are a business). 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. 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 happens on day of the hearing?
We recommend arriving to court at least fifteen minutes before your hearing. When you arrive, you should look for the small claims court calendar or for a clerk to assist you. Cases are listed on the calendar by the last name of the plaintiff and the last name of the defendant (or full name of the business or other entity). If you are unable to find your case on the calendar, you should contact the court clerk (or judge if there is no court clerk). In some courtrooms, the clerk may check people in as they arrive. In others, you must wait until your case is called.
When the judge or clerk calls your case, you should be prepared to tell the judge if you are ready for the case to proceed, ask for a continuance if you want one (and be ready to state a good reason for one), or any other request you may need to make. If both parties are ready, the case will proceed.
Is Herkimer County the right place to file my action?
A plaintiff has to bring the action in the village or town in which the defendant resides or a business has an open office.
How do I find the correct name of the defendant?
If the defendant is a person, your job is pretty easy. Use the first and last name of the defendant (do not use their nickname). You should also be able to provide the address of the defendant. For businesses, it can be a little more tricky. The staff at the Herkimer 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).
Jury Trials in Small Claims Court
Only a defendant can make the request for a jury trial. The demand must be made prior to the hearing. (The reason a plaintiff cannot demand a jury trial is because if the plaintiff files the case in small claims court the court deems the plaintiff consenting to have factual issues determined by the judge and not a jury, otherwise the case would be filed in the regular civil part). The defendant must file an affidavit stating the issues of fact the jury is to decide. The judge will then determine if the case should 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.
What happens if a party fails to appear on the hearing date?
If you are the plaintiff, your 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. Note: Court rules require that the judge wait at least one hour before holding a hearing or entering a judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
Where are the Small Claims Courts located in Herkimer County?
Each village or town has in Herkimer County has its own court to handle cases arising at that town or village. Herkimer County has 26 locations to handle small claims court cases for the following villages and towns: Columbia Town, Danube Town, Fairfield Town, Frankfort Town, Frankfort Village, German Flatts Town, Herkimer Town, Herkimer Village, Ilion Village, Litchfield Town, Little Falls Town, Manheim Town, Middleville Village, Mohawk Village, Newport Town, Newport Village, Norway Town, Ohio Town, Poland Village, Russia Town, Salisbury Town, Schuyler Town, Stark Town, Warren Town, Webb Town, and Winfield Town.
The small claims court locations are:
Columbia Town Court147 Columbia Center Road Ilion, NY 13357
Danube Town CourtPO Box 543 Little Falls, NY 13365
Fairfield Town CourtE. W. Corey Hall Middleville, NY 13406
Frankfort Town Court142 South Litchfield Street Town Hall Frankfort, NY 13340
Frankfort Village Court110 Railroad Street Suite 6 Frankfort, NY 13340
German Flatts Town CourtPO Box 57 Mohawk, NY 13407
Herkimer Town Court114 North Prospect Street Herkimer, NY 13350
Herkimer Village Court120 Green Street Herkimer, NY 13350
Ilion Village Court45 Morgan Street PO Box 270 Ilion, NY 13357
Litchfield Town Court804 Cedarville Road Ilion, NY 13357
Little Falls Town Court478 Flint Avenue Extension Town Hall Little Falls, NY 13365
Manheim Town CourtP.O. Box 32 Dolgeville, NY 13329
Middleville Village CourtPO Box 76 Middleville, NY 13406
Mohawk Village Court28 Columbia Street Mohawk, NY 13407
Newport Town Court2287 West Street P.O. Box 494 Newport, NY 13416
Newport Village Court2287 West Street P.O. Box 494 Newport, NY 13416
Norway Town Court3013 Military Road Newport, NY 13416
Ohio Town Court234 Nellis Road Cold Brook, NY 13324
Poland Village CourtP.O. Box 126 Poland, NY 13431
Russia Town CourtPO Box 126 Municipal Building Poland, NY 13431
Salisbury Town CourtPO Box 241 Salisbury Center, NY 13454
Schuyler Town Court2090 State Route 5 Utica, NY 13502
Stark Town Court2407 State Route 80 P.O. Box 18 Van Hornesville, NY 13475
Warren Town CourtPO Box 122 Jordanville, NY 13361
Webb Town CourtRoute 28, Main Street PO Box 157 Old Forge, NY 13420
Winfield Town CourtPO Box 308 West Winfield, NY 13491
Small Claims Court Terms
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” or “claimant” is the party who brings or initiates the action in Small Claims Court. A “defendant” is the party that is being sued. Sometimes, a third party (not the plaintiff or defendant) is brought into the case where a defendant files a third party claim asserting that another party is responsible for plaintiff’s damages. If you are interested in filing a third party claim (as a defendant), contact the local clerk for the filing fees and local procedures.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a dispute resolution process that is binding. 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. If both parties agree to arbitration, an arbitrator will often be able to hear a claim before a judge would (because there are more arbitrators than judges). The arbitrator uses the exact same law the judge would follow. An arbitrator’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.
What is mediation?
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 Herkimer County, the program used for mediation is: