What can I expect at trial?
Unlike regular civil trials, small claims court rules do not follow the Rules of Evidence. 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. Trials generally are pretty short (15-20 minutes). However, if a party wishes for a jury trial, it will likely last a few hours.
Small Claims Court Case Types
Most cases for the recovery of money can be heard in small claims court. 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. However, small claims court cannot handle assignments of claims (where one person transfers their interest in an action to another), a divorce proceedings, and cases filed by collection agencies or agents.
A Justice of the Peace for McLennan County hears small claims court cases for McLennan County.
Do I need A Lawyer?
Small claims court litigants in Texas normally represent themselves without an attorney. The reasoning behind this is because the amount is $10,000 or less, hiring an attorney becomes cost prohibitive. You are not required to have an attorney, but you are allowed one. (Government Code 28.003). Small Claims actions are heard in 8 courthouses throughout McLennan 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.
Can I file my small claims case in McLennan County?
You should file your action in the County and specific Precinct where the defendants reside or where the defendant has contracted to perform. (Government Code Section 28.011).
Limit (or Jurisdiction) of Small Claims Court
The plaintiff’s demand for money cannot exceed $10,000. (Texas Government Code 28.093). Another restriction of small claims court is that a plaintiff can only seek monetary relief (an award of money). The court has no authority to issue an injunctive or equitable award. For example, if you pay a painter $1,000 to paint your house and the painter does not even begin, you cannot ask the court to issue an order for the painter to paint your house. You could only ask the court for an award of money.
Clerk’s Role in Small Claims Court Actions
We recommend contacting the McLennan 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.
McLennan County Court Locations
The precinct map for McLennan County can be found here.
Precinct 1 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of Waco
This courthouse is located at:501 Washington Ave, Rm 104D Waco, TX 76701-1300
Precinct 1 Place 2 Courthouse in the City of Waco
This courthouse is located at:501 Washington Ave, Rm 108 Waco, TX 76701-1327
Precinct 2 Courthouse in the City of Mart
This courthouse is located at:410 Texas Ave, P O Box 112 Mart, TX 76664-0112
Precinct 3 Courthouse in the City of West
This courthouse is located at:P O Box 495 West, TX 76691-0495
Precinct 4 Courthouse in the City of China Spring
This courthouse is located at:13341 China Spring Rd China Spring, TX 76633-3097
Precinct 5 Courthouse in the City of McGregor
This courthouse is located at:307 S Madison St McGregor, TX 76657
Precinct 7 Courthouse in the City of Waco
This courthouse is located at:929 Elm Ave Waco, TX 76704-2659
Precinct 8 Courthouse in the City of Waco
This courthouse is located at:1800 Richter Ave, Ste A Waco, TX 76711-1949