What can I expect at trial?
Unlike regular civil trials, small claims court rules do not follow the Rules of Evidence. There are no rules of evidence. Generally the judge will ask questions to help develop the facts and understand the context and circumstances surrounding the case. It will likely be pretty quick. However, if a party wishes for a jury trial, it will likely last a few hours.
Clerk’s Role in Small Claims Court Actions
We recommend contacting the Duval County court clerk before proceeding down to the courthouse to file your action. The clerk is knowledgeable at all of the procedures and will be able to inform you of any specific local procedures for Duval County. We recommend calling the clerk’s office to ensure the courthouse is open. Remember, the court clerk is trained to assist with procedural questions, but is not able to give legal advice.
Judges for Small Claims Court Cases in Duval County
The justice of the peace for Duval County presides over small claims court actions for Duval County.
Small Claims Court Case Types
Small claims courts handle a wide variety of cases. This could be an action to get your security deposit back, or an action to recover money for damage done to your vehicle after a car accident. Under Texas law, collections cases and claim assignments cannot be heard in small claims court.
Are Appeals Allowed?
Yes, but only if the amount in controversy is in excess of $250. Duval County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 4 courthouses in Duval County.
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. This is largely because the amount at issue in the case is not large enough to justify the hiring of an attorney. However, you are allowed to retain one if you choose.
Limit (or Jurisdiction) of Small Claims Court
The plaintiff’s demand for money cannot exceed $10,000. (Texas Government Code 28.093). Small claims parties can only recover money. You cannot seek injunctive relief. For example, you could sue a dry cleaner for ruining your clothes and ask for money to replace the clothes, but you cannot ask the judge for an order for the dry cleaner to repair your clothes. You could only ask the court for an award of money.
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).
Duval County Court Locations
The precinct map for Duval County can be found here.
Precinct 1 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of San Diego
This courthouse is located at:P O Box 429 San Diego, TX 78384
Precinct 2 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of San Diego
This courthouse is located at:P O Box 1065 San Diego, TX 78384
This courthouse handles cases for Precinct 2 Place 1. The court’s website can be found here. The phone number for the court is (361)279-6245.
Precinct 3 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of Benavides
This courthouse is located at:P O Box 756 Benavides, TX 78341
Precinct 4 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of Freer
This courthouse is located at:P O Box 841 Freer, TX 78357
This courthouse handles cases for Precinct 4 Place 1. The court’s website can be found here. The phone number for the court is (361)394-6011.