Court’s Ruling in a Small Claims Court Case
The magistrate or judge could make a decision at the hearing after the presentation of evidence. Or, the judge or magistrate might take the matter under submission. If this happens, the court will probably notify the parties through mail.
What Options does a Defendant have in Small Court Cases?
Once a defendant has been served, the following options are available:
- Removing the case to Regular District Court
- Appearing at the Court Hearing
- Ignoring the Case (which may end up in a court issuing a default judgment against you)
- Settling the Case
Serving the Defendant in a Small Claims Court Case
After the case is filed, the court will make attempts to provide the defendant with a copy of the Affidavit and Claim (that the plaintiff filled out). In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff is also responsible for paying the cost of service of the defendant. Service is how the defendant learns of the lawsuit and when the case will be heard. Courts utilize both personal service and service by certified mail.
Small Claims Court Case Removal to District Court
Removal is the legal name for transferring the case from small claims court to regular district court (which allows either side to be represented by an attorney and removes the $6,000 limit of small claims court). Moving the case to regular district court means the normal rules of evidence and discovery apply meaning the case will take much longer to resolve. Either party can request to move the case out of small claims court. To accomplish this, a party should fill out and file with the court clerk a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims. This document needs to be filed prior to the small claims court trial or hearing and can actually be filed the same day (so long as it is before the hearing starts). The document can be found online.
Shiawassee County Small Claims Court
66th District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Shiawassee County. A special branch of 66th District Court handles small claims court cases whose purpose is to settle and decide disputes concerning money without the use of attorneys or lawyers. Neither the plaintiff not the defendant need to know anything about the law in order to utilize small claims court. Attorneys are not allowed to appear in court or argue on behalf of clients in small claims court. A party does not need an attorney in small claims court (but can obviously consult with or talk to an attorney about their case if they want). A party simply states the case in their own words. Although it is called small claims court, it is a division of the 66th District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.
Settling a Small Claims Court
Oftentimes the court may try to settle a court case without a hearing. Mediation is the method by which a court tries to settle a case without a hearing or trial. During mediation, a mediator (which is an unbiased third party oftentimes with specific training on dispute resolution) will meet with both parties (separately or together) in the hopes of settling a case.
Types of Cases in Small Claims Court
Small Claims court handles civil cases where the amount in controversy (or dispute) is $6,000 or less. A court can only award money in a small claims court case. If a party is seeking property or specific performance, the case should not be filed in small claims court. Common types of cases handled in small claims court include the following:
- Contract disputes including payment or performance
- Car accidents where insurance is not covering the damages
- Tenant and landlord disputes over the return of security deposit
Small claims court does not handle the following types of cases:
- Assault and Battery
- Any action based on intentional harm or damages
What Happens at a Small Claims Court Hearing
The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present evidence first. The defendant presents their side of the case after the plaintiff. If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the court can dismiss the case. If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the court can issue what is called a default judgment based on the case the plaintiff present.
Is a Jury Available in a Shiawassee County Small Claims Court Case?
Small Claims Court cases do not use juries. A small claims court case is heard by either a judge or an attorney magistrate. An attorney magistrate is an attorney who has been appointed by the court to assist with certain types of cases and legal actions. Due to judicial funding, oftentimes, an attorney magistrate is used to hear a large portion of small claims court cases.
Jurisdiction of Shiawassee County Small Claims Court
A case should be filed in the district court where the defendant resides, where the defendant’s business is located, or where the transaction involved in the case occurred. Where the case is filed is called venue. If a case is filed in the wrong location, it will delay your case being actually decided and may result in having to pay a second filing fee or having the case dismiss your first case. While court staff cannot provide legal advice, it is recommended you contact the court clerk of the District Court to confirm that the court’s jurisdiction covers the geographic area needed for your case.
Can I have an attorney Represent me in Small Claims Court?
Attorneys or lawyers are not allowed in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff or defendant is allowed to have an attorney represent them in the case. Each side is required to represent himself or herself in front of the court. Either side can request that the case be removed to regular district court where both sides can have an attorney. However, regular district court follows the normal rules of evidence and procedures which mean the dispute will likely take significantly longer to resolve.
What is the maximum amount of money that a Small Claims Court can Award in Shiawassee County?
In Michigan, the small claims court cannot award more than $6,000 to a party. If a plaintiff filed a case in small claims court that is worth more than six thousand dollars, the plaintiff can still choose to file the case in small claims court. But, if the plaintiff does so, he or she gives up the right to recover anything more than that amount. The plaintiff also cannot file an additional case based on the same case to recover the excess amount.
How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Shiawassee County
The forms for a plaintiff to fill out to begin a small claims court case can be found here. Once filled out, the plaintiff needs to file the form with the 66th District Court clerk. The plaintiff will also have to pay a filing fee when filing a case. The filing fees are:
- $30 – for claims up to $600
- $50 – for claims between $600 and $1,750
- $70 – for claims between $1,750 and up to $6,000
If the plaintiff is successful in the case, the court could add the cost of the filing fee to the damages in the case. Once the case has been filed, the clerk should provide you with the case number. You should keep this court case number handy as it will help you identify your case when you speak with court staff or complete paperwork associated with your case. In addition to the case number, you should also be provided with the date, time, and location of the court hearing for your case.
Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing
Before the hearing, parties should gather all documents, papers, and other evidence related to the case. This includes any contracts, written agreements, receipts, photographs, or videos that involve the subject matter of your case. Both sides will be given the opportunity to present their case. It is advised that you write out what you plan on saying to the court about your case in advance (to help focus in on what is really important). You should also try and arrange for any witnesses which support your position to be present in court at the hearing to present testimony.
Small Claims Court Locations in Shiawassee County
66th District Court handles small claims court cases in Shiawassee County. 66th District Court is located at:Shiawassee County Courts Building 110 E. Mack St. Corunna, MI 48817
The phone number for Shiawassee County District Court is: (989) 743-2395. The District Court can be found online here.