Schoharie 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. 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.
What happens if I don’t show up for the hearing date for my small claims court case in Schoharie County?
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. Court rules require that the judge not enter a default judgment until one hour after the time set for the hearing.
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. In these cases, the corporation or partnership can authorize an attorney, director, or employee of the entity to appear on its behalf (to defend the action).
Small Claims Court Locations in Schoharie County
Every town and village of Schoharie County has its own small claims court to handle cases arising in that location. Schoharie County has 19 locations to handle small claims court cases for the following villages and towns: Blenheim Town, Broome Town, Carlisle Town, Cobleskill Town, Cobleskill Village, Conesville Town, Esperance Town, Fulton Town, Gilboa Town, Jefferson Town, Middleburgh Town, Middleburgh Village, Richmondville Town, Schoharie Town, Schoharie Village, Seward Town, Sharon Town, Summit Town, and Wright Town.
The small claims court locations are:
Blenheim Town CourtPO Box 161 North Blenheim, NY 12131
Broome Town Court920 State Rte 145 Middleburgh, NY 12122
Carlisle Town Court2417 St. Rte. 20 P.O. Box 104 Carlisle, NY 12031
Cobleskill Town Court378 Mineral Springs Road Suite 3 Cobleskill, NY 12043
Cobleskill Village Court378 Mineral Springs Road Suite 3 Cobleskill, NY 12043
Conesville Town CourtRoute 990V, RD 1 PO Box 344 Gilboa, NY 12076
Esperance Town Court104 Charleston Street P.O. Box 226 Esperance, NY 12066
Fulton Town Court1168 Bear Ladder Road West Fulton, NY 12194
Gilboa Town CourtSR 990V PO Box 105 Gilboa, NY 12076
Jefferson Town CourtCounty Route 2A Jefferson, NY 12093
Middleburgh Town Court143 Railroad Avenue PO Box 946 Middleburgh, NY 12122
Middleburgh Village Court140 Railroad Avenue PO Box 946 Middleburgh, NY 12122
Richmondville Town Court340 Main Street Richmondville, NY 12149
Schoharie Town Court300 Main Street P.O. Box 865 Schoharie, NY 12157
Schoharie Village Court300 Main Street P.O. Box 865 Schoharie, NY 12157
Seward Town Court795 Lowe Rd Cobleskill, NY 12043
Sharon Town Court106 Park Street P.O. Box 96 Sharon Springs, NY 13459
Summit Town CourtTown Hall Summit, NY 12175
Wright Town CourtPO Box 43 Gallupville, NY 12073
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. Businesses can be slightly more difficult because you may not know the structure of the business. Contact the Schoharie County Clerk’s Office. They will be able to provide you with the business’s correct legal name.
Is Schoharie County the right place to file my action?
The action must be brought in the town or village where the defendant resides (or has an open business office).
Are there appeals in small claims court cases?
The deadline for appealing a small claims court judgment is 30 days (if you receive the judgment in court or have been personally delivered the judgment) or 35 days after the court or other party mails you the judgment. Appeals require additional fees to be filed. You must also determine if a transcript needs to be ordered. If you are interested in filing an appeal, check with the clerk of your specific court for the procedures and filing fees. An appellate court will only reverse a small claims court judgment if the ruling meets the “clearly erroneous” standard. Some parties benefit from consulting with an attorney prior to filing an appeal (to determine if it is even worthwhile).
Do I have to hire an attorney?
You do not have to hire an attorney to represent you in small claims court (even if you are a business). 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. A party does have a right to retain an attorney if he, she, or it wishes. 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.
Small Claims Court Lingo
A party is a person (or entity) on either side of the “v.” (plaintiff and defendant are each parties to the case). 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. 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). A defendant who is interested in filing a third party action should contact the clerk of the local court for the property procedures and filing fees.
Beginning a Small Claims Court Case
The case has to be filed at the court location. Visit the court for that town or village, and the court will provide you with the paperwork to begin the action. One section of the form will ask for a statement of the case. The statement is a fancy way of asking what your case is about. This should be brief and include all important facts. You may be entitled to interest if the basis for your case is property damage or based on a contract. 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 will provide ths notice through mail–both certified and first-class. After twenty-one days, the defendant is served unless the first-class mail was returned as undeliverable. If a defendant cannot be served by mail, then the clerk will provide you with instructions on how the defendant can be personally served. The court (via the clerk or judge) will likely give you a new hearing date and time. Pursuant to due process, a hearing cannot occur until the defendant has been served. 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).
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 Schoharie County, mediation services are provided by:
Tri-County Mediation Center
Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery Counties