Jefferson County Small Claims Court

Jefferson County Small Claims Court

What about a jury trial for a small claims court case in Jefferson 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 can either transfer the case to the regular civil part of the court (where regular evidentiary rules apply) or remain in small claims court. If the case remains in small claims court, only six jurors are used.

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). The plaintiff (sometimes referred to as a claimant) is the person (or entity) that begins the lawsuit (by a filing at the courthouse). The defendant is the party who is being sued. A third party is also sometimes brought into a case by a defendant if the defendant feels that the third party may be wholly or partly responsible for plaintiff’s claims. 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 happens if a party fails to appear on the hearing date?

If you are the plaintiff, your case is dismissed. If you are the defendant and fail to show up to court, the court will enter a ruling based only on the evidence presented by the plaintiff. This could result in a “default” judgment taken against the defendant. 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.

Small Claims Court Appeals for Jefferson County 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). Appeals require additional fees to be filed. You must also determine if a transcript needs to be ordered. 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.

Should I use arbitration for my small claims court case?

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. 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. The final judgment issued by the arbitrator cannot be appealed by any party.

Are continuances allowed in small claims court?

The court may call a continuance an adjournment. These are discouraged as the purpose of small claims court is a quick, efficient way of resolving disputes. Only the court can give you a continuance (even if you have talked to the other party and agreed to a later date). A party can ask for a continuance by requesting one through the mail. You should also send a copy of the request to all the other parties in the case. 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).

Jefferson County Small Claims Court

Jefferson County Small Claims Court

Jefferson County Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court cases are heard in the town or village court for Jefferson County. One can sue for $3,000.00 or less in a town or village court in Jefferson County. The purpose of small claims court and the motivation behind the relaxed evidentiary rules and procedures is to allow these cases to be resolved informally and without making a party hire an attorney. If you do have a claim for more than $3,000.00, you cannot file two separate actions to bring it under the limit. A claimant or plantiff can only seek monetary relief in small claims court. A party cannot sue to ask the court to order a defendant to take action (ie. fulfill the terms of an advertisement). A party can only sue for monetary relief. A plaintiff or claimant can also sue a public entity like a city or other agency. However, you have to file a claim with that agency before filing your small claims court action. The claim must be filed within ninety days of the incident. If you fail to follow this rule, your case will be dismissed.

What is the correct name for 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). The court will also ask for the address of the defendant (to send the notice of the small claims court case and hearing). For businesses, it can be a little more tricky. The staff at the Jefferson 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).

Jefferson County Small Claims Court Locations

Each town and village has its own court to handle cases from there. Jefferson County has 32 locations to handle small claims court cases for the following villages and towns: Adams Town, Adams Village, Alexandria Bay Village, Alexandria Town, Antwerp Town, Brownville Town, Brownville Village, Cape Vincent Town, Carthage Village, Champion Town, Clayton Town, Clayton Village, Dexter Village, Ellisburg Town, Glen Park Village, Henderson Town, Hounsfield Town, Le Ray Town, Lorraine Town, Lyme Town, Orleans Town, Pamelia Town, Philadelphia Town, Philadelphia Village, Rodman Town, Rutland Town, Theresa Town, Theresa Village, Watertown Town, West Carthage Village, Wilna Town, and Worth Town.

Here are the court locations:

Adams Town Court

3 S. Main Street
P.O. Box 176
Adams, NY 13605

Adams Village Court

3 South Main Street
Adams, NY 13605

Alexandria Bay Village Court

110 Walton Street
PO Box 809
Alexandria Bay, NY 13607

Alexandria Town Court

46372 Old Goose Bay Road
PO Box 130
Alexandria Bay, NY 13607

Antwerp Town Court

Main Street
Town Hall
Antwerp, NY 13608

Brownville Town Court

16431 Star School House Road
Dexter, NY 13634

Brownville Village Court

PO Box 88
Brownville, NY 13615

Cape Vincent Town Court

1964 State Route 12E
Cape Vincent, NY 13618

Carthage Village Court

120 South Mechanic Street
Carthage, NY 13619

Champion Town Court

10 North Broad Street
Carthage, NY 13619

Clayton Town Court

401 Mary Street
Clayton, NY 13624

Clayton Village Court

401 Mary Street
Clayton, NY 13624

Dexter Village Court

16431 Star School House Road
P.O. Box 92
Dexter, NY 13634

Ellisburg Town Court

Main Street
PO Box 112
Town Hall
Ellisburg, NY 13636

Glen Park Village Court

16431 Star School House Road
Town Office
Dexter, NY 13634

Henderson Town Court

PO Box 259
Henderson, NY 13650

Hounsfield Town Court

411 W. Washington Street
P.O. Box 306
Sackets Harbor, NY 13685

Le Ray Town Court

8650 Leray Street
Evans Mills, NY 13637

Lorraine Town Court

County Route 189
PO Box 52
Lorraine, NY 13659

Lyme Town Court

PO Box 66
Chaumont, NY 13622

Orleans Town Court

Sunrise Avenue
PO Box 206
Lafargeville, NY 13656

Pamelia Town Court

25859 NYS Route 37
Watertown, NY 13601

Philadelphia Town Court

33019 Us Route 11
Philadelphia, NY 13673

Philadelphia Village Court

56 Main Street
PO Box 70
Philadelphia, NY 13673

Rodman Town Court

12534 School Street
PO Box 431
Rodman, NY 13682

Rutland Town Court

28411 State Route 126
Black River, NY 13612

Theresa Town Court

215 Riverside Avenue
P.O. Box 675
Theresa, NY 13691

Theresa Village Court

124 Commercial Street
PO Box 299
Theresa, NY 13691

Watertown Town Court

22869 County Route 67
Watertown, NY 13601

West Carthage Village Court

23 Franklin Street
West Carthage, NY 13619

Wilna Town Court

120 South Mechanic Street
Carthage, NY 13619

Worth Town Court

24252 County Route 189
Lorraine, NY 13659

Hearing Day Procedures

We recommend arriving to court at least fifteen minutes before your hearing. Upon arriving, you should look for the small claims court calendar (or a clerk if there is no calendar). The calendar will list the cases that will be heard that day. They will be listed by the last name of the plaintiff and the last name of the defendant (or business name). 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). Courtrooms have different procedures. In some courtrooms, the clerk checks in parties as they arrive. Some courts simply have you wait until your case is called.
When your case is called, you may ask the court for a continuance or adjournment or any other request. If both parties are ready to proceed, the case will go forward.

Can I file my small claims case in Jefferson?

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 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. If the counterclaim is filed after the five days, the plaintiff can ask for a later hearing date (and sometimes the court may continue the hearing out even without the plaintiff asking).

Am I able to sue in small claims court?

The small claims court is available to any person who has reached the age of majority (18 years 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 entities can be sued in this court. When a corporate entity is sued, it can authorize an employee, director, or attorney to appear and defend it in court.

How a Small Claims Court Case Begins

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 the necessary forms. One section of the form will ask for a statement of the 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. You should note in the statement of the case if you are requesting interest (which happens if your case concerns property damage or a contract specifies an interest amount). 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 date and time of the hearing will be provided to you by the clerk. The clerk provides the defendant with the statement of the claim and the date and time of the hearing (this is called “service”). The clerk sends the notice via certified and first-class mail. After twenty-one days, the defendant is served unless the first-class mail was returned as undeliverable. If the post office cannot deliver notice of the claim and you believe the person still resides in that village or town, the court (clerk) will give you a new hearing date and will instruct you on how to personally serve the defendant. For purposes of due process (which is a fancy way of saying fairness), the hearing cannot occur until after the defendant has been properly served with notice of the plaintiff’s claim. The claim will be dismissed after four months if the defendant has not been served. Dismissal is without prejudice meaning you can refile if you learn new information that the defendant is still residing in that village or town.

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 Jefferson County, the program used for mediation is:

Resolution Center of Jefferson and Lewis Counties
200 Washington Street, Suite 207

One comment

  1. Patrick O'Heron says:

    Will the court collect the money for the plaintiff? If not, how is the money collected?

    Very Respectfully,

    Patrick O’Heron

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *