The justice of the peace for Austin County presides over small claims court actions for Austin County.
Small Claims Court Case Types
A variety of cases are handled in small claims court. From a security deposit on a rental to a motor vehicle accident. The only types of cases that are prohibited are an assignment of a claim (whereby you transfer your interest in a case for someone else to collect), a divorce, or a case filed by a collection agency or agents.
Can I hire an attorney?
You are allowed to hire an attorney (Texas Government Code Section 28.003), however, most small claims court parties choose to represent themselves. The reasoning behind this is because the amount is $10,000 or less, hiring an attorney becomes cost prohibitive. Nevertheless, you are allowed to retain one if you desire. (Texas Government Code Section 28.003).
What can I expect at trial?
Small claims court trials are very informal compared to a regular civil trial. In fact, the judge in small claims court is charged with developing facts of the case and may question or summon witnesses. Additionally, the judge is allowed to ask questions of the parties and witnesses, and generally takes a more proactive role in determining the facts of a case. It will likely be pretty quick. However, if a party wishes for a jury trial, it will likely last a few hours. Small Claims actions are heard in 4 courthouses throughout Austin County.
Are there appeals in small claims court?
A party can appeal a ruling if the amount of the judge’s award is in excess of $250.00.
Small Claims Court Venue
In order to follow correct procedure, a small claims case needs to be filed in the proper county and precinct. In Texas, the action is filed in the County and Precinct where the defendants reside or where a contract was to be performed. (Government Code Section 28.011).
Clerk’s Role in Small Claims Court Actions
We recommend contacting the Austin County court clerk before proceeding down to the courthouse to file your action. This will ensure the courthouse is open and someone is available to assist with the filing of your claim. Remember, the court clerk is trained to assist with procedural questions, but is not able to give legal advice.
Limit (or Jurisdiction) of Small Claims Court
You cannot demand or ask for more than $10,000 in a small claims court case. (Government Code 28.093). Additionally, a small claims court plaintiff can only ask the court for monetary relief. You cannot seek injunctive relief. Say your landscaper breaks a sprinkler head. You can ask the court for money to replace the sprinkler head, but you cannot ask the court for an order requiring the landscaper to physically replace the sprinkler head. This type of relief would be injunctive relief.
Austin County Court Locations
The precinct map for Austin County can be found here.
Precinct 1 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of Bellville
This courthouse is located at:One E Main St Bellville, TX 77418
Precinct 2 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of Industry
This courthouse is located at:P O Box 176 Industry, TX 78944-0176
Precinct 3 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of Sealy
This courthouse is located at:201 Atchison St Sealy, TX 77474-2339
Precinct 4 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of Wallis
This courthouse is located at:P O Box 760 Wallis, TX 77485-0760