What is the trial like?
The trial is relatively informal compared to a normal trial. In fact, the judge in small claims court is charged with developing facts of the case and may question or summon witnesses. 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. If a jury trial is required, the trial could last a few hours.
Small Claims Court Jurisdiction
You cannot demand or ask for more than $10,000 in a small claims court case. (Government Code 28.093). Small claims parties can only recover 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. This type of relief would be injunctive relief.
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.
Clerk’s Role in Small Claims Court Actions
The clerk at the courthouse can be an excellent resource for your case. The clerk is an excellent resource for the procedure for small claims court cases in Texas but also any procedures specific to that County or courthouse. It is recommended that you contact the clerk’s office to ensure the courthouse is open during the hours you want to visit. While the clerk can help you with procedural issues, the clerk is not able to give legal advice. They will direct you to an attorney if answering your question would require that.
Do I need A Lawyer?
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 because cases involving $10,000 or less usually do not justify the cost of an attorney. You are not required to have an attorney, but you are allowed one. (Government Code 28.003).
Types of Small Claims Cases
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. 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 Orange County hears small claims court cases for Orange County.
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). Orange County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 4 courthouses in Orange County.
Orange County Court Locations
The precinct map for Orange County can be found here.
Precinct 1 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of Orange
This courthouse is located at:801 W Division Orange, TX 77630-6353
Precinct 2 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of Orange
This courthouse is located at:P O Box 2219 Orange, TX 77631-2219
Precinct 3 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of Orange
This courthouse is located at:2524 Hwy 87 S Orange, TX 77630
Precinct 4 Place 1 Courthouse in the City of Vidor
This courthouse is located at:190 Camp St Vidor, TX 77662