Does a Marshall County Small Claims Court Jury or Judge?
In Marshall County, a small claims trial may be in front of a jury or a judge. You are encouraged to consult with an attorney prior to requesting a jury trial. A jury trial (which can be in front of six or twelve jurors) is highly complex and requires significantly more preparation than a trial in front of a judge. Also, if you are the party making the request for a jury trial, you will incur additional costs associated with the jury trial.
Small Claims Court Marshall County
Small claims court is a special type of civil court where a party can file a case for $10,000 or less. Rules and procedures for small claims court have been simplified to allow cases to be tried faster and by people who are not attorneys.
Marshall County Small Claims Court Location
In Marshall County, Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Marshall County Courthouse 122 N. Prairie Lacon, IL 61540
The court’s website is here. The circuit court clerk takes care of all documents and files for court cases. The circuit clerk’s address is:122 N. Prairie P.O. Box 328 Lacon, Illinois 61540-0328
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 309-246-6435
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 309-246-2173
Filing a Small Claims Court Case
The plaintiff needs to file a document called a complaint with the court clerk. A blank complaint can be obtained through the court clerk’s office which is located inside of the courthouse. The party that files the complaint is called the plaintiff. The party being sued in the complaint is called the defendant.
Can I have an attorney represent me in Small Claims Court?
You can represent yourself in small claims court or hire an attorney to represent you. However, when a corporate entity is the plaintiff in a case, it is required to be represented by an attorney.
Beginning a Marshall County Small Claims Court Case
It is strongly recommended to send a demand letter to the defendant before filing a small claims court case. Demand letters are a written summary explaining the facts surrounding your case and why you are entitled to money (which should be drafted in a polite, clear, concise way). The demand letter is recommended because resolving a case through small claims court (even though quicker and simpler than a regular civil case) still takes time. Additionally, collection of any court award takes additional time and is never guaranteed. If it is possible to settle your case before filing with the court, it is an option worth exploring. Drafting a demand letter also allows the plaintiff to explain the case in a brief manner (which has to be done when the complaint is filed in the court).
What happens after the Small Claims Court Trial?
If the court finds for the plaintiff, the court is able to issue a judgment which awards monetary damages to the plaintiff. Either party is able to appeal the judgment issued by the court (which must be filed within thirty days of the judgment being entered by the court.
Small Claims Court Trial Preparation
The key to preparing a case for trial is to be able to explain your side of the case in a way that is easy for the judge (or jury) to understand. Bring documents, photographs, contracts, receipts, or anything else that supports your position. It is recommended to prepare a short chronology of events or description of all of the facts surrounding your case. Dates, times, and monetary values are extremely important details for the court to take note of. Witnesses who support your side of the case should also be invited to court to provide testimony during the trial. You should make sure any witness you need is aware of the location of the court (including courtroom number) and the time and date of the trial. If the witness refuses to come to court, you will need to prepare and serve a subpoena for the witness’s attendance.
How do I serve a party?
After a complaint is filed in court, it needs to be served on the party. An individual can be served at their address. But if the party is a corporate entity, it can be more difficult determining the correct procedure. In the State of Illinois, a corporate entity can be served on a corporation’s office or its registered agent. A plaintiff should visit the Illinois Secretary of State website to obtain the addresses for the corporate entity (and registered agents).
Who can be a plaintiff in small claims court?
An Illinois corporation or any resident in Illinois can use small claims court to file a claim (and be sued as well). The court may require the appointment of a guardian for those parties under the age of 18. A corporation is not required to be represented by an attorney in small claims court. However, if a corporation is acting as a defendant, it is allowed to be represented by certain members of the corporation.
What Happens at a Small Claims Court Trial
In a court trial, the judge will decide the facts of your case and will listen to the evidence provided by the plaintiff and the defendant. The judge will also listen to any testimony from any witnesses and examine any exhibits (documents and photographs) provided by the parties. Plaintiffs present their side of the case first. Defendants present their case once the plaintiffs have finished presenting its case. It is important to speak clearly and slowly so that the judge can understand you. Normally, people will naturally be inclined to be nervous when speaking in public (and in front of a court), so it is recommended you practice discussing your side of the case in front of another person (spouse, relative, neighbor, friend) so you get more comfortable speaking about it.
Filing a Small Claims Case in Marshall County Court
Illinois law requires a small claims court case to be filed in the county where one of the defendants live or in the county where the incident or transaction involved in the case occurred. In the case of a traffic collision, it would be the county where the traffic collision occurred.
What Types of Cases are handled in Marshall County Small Claims Court?
Illinois restricts the types of cases that can be filed in small claims court to the following:
- breach of contract
- property damage
- personal injury
- repossessions of personal property that was leased or purchased on credit
- garnishment actions brought against debtors
The maximum judgment that can be allowed in small claims court is $10,000 (plus costs).