Albany County Small Claims Court
Can I ask for a continuance?
In small claims court cases, a continuance can also be called an adjournment. The court generally discourages continuances in the interest of resolving disputes quickly and inexpensively. Only the court can grant a continuance. If you want a continuance, you can ask the court through mail. You should send a copy of the request to all the parties involved in the case as well. You can also ask for a continuance on the hearing date, but you need to be prepared in case the court refuses your request.
What are the filing costs for a case in Albany County?
In Albany County, the fee to file a Small Claims Court case is $10 (if your claim amount is $1,000 or less) or $15 (if the claim is for more than $1000.00).
Do I have to hire an attorney?
Do I have to hire an attorney?
You are not required to hire an attorney for a small claims court case. In fact, the rules and procedures are designed to be informal so that you should not have to retain an attorney. A party does have a right to retain an attorney if he, she, or it wishes. Sometimes, when a plaintiff and a defendant have both retained attorneys, the court can transfer the case from small claims to the regular civil part.
Where are the Small Claims Courts located in Albany County?
Every town and village of Albany County has its own small claims court to handle cases arising in that location. Albany County has 14 locations to handle small claims court cases for the following villages and towns: Altamont Village, Berne Town, Bethlehem Town, Coeymans Town, Colonie Town, Green Island Town, Guilderland Town, Knox Town, Menands Village, New Scotland Town, Ravena Village, Rensselaerville Town, Voorheesville Village, and Westerlo Town.
The locations for the courts are:
Altamont Village Court115 Main Street PO Box 643 Altamont, NY 12009
Berne Town CourtPO Box 57 Town Hall Berne, NY 12023
Bethlehem Town Court447 Delaware Avenue Delmar, NY 12054
Coeymans Town Court18 Russell Avenue Town Building Ravena, NY 12143
Colonie Town Court312 Wolf Road Public Safety Building Latham, NY 12110
Green Island Town Court69 Hudson Avenue Green Island, NY 12183
Guilderland Town CourtPO Box 339 Town Hall Guilderland, NY 12084
Knox Town CourtPO Box 124 Knox, NY 12107
Menands Village Court250 Broadway Menands, NY 12204
New Scotland Town Court2029 New Scotland Road Town Hall Slingerlands, NY 12159
Ravena Village Court15 Mountain Road Ravena, NY 12143
Rensselaerville Town Court87 Barger Road Town Building Medusa, NY 12120
Voorheesville Village CourtPO Box 367 Voorheesville, NY 12186
Westerlo Town CourtTown Hall, 671 County Route 401 Westerlo, NY 12193
Hearing Day Procedures
We recommend arriving to court at least fifteen minutes before your hearing. Upon arriving, you should look for the small claims court calendar (or a clerk if there is no calendar). The calendar will list the cases that will be heard that day. They will be listed by the last name of the plaintiff and the last name of the defendant (or business name). If you cannot find your case, you should contact the clerk (or judge if there is no clerk). Some courtrooms have the parties check in as they arrive. In others, the parties only check in when their case is called.
When the judge or clerk calls your case, you should be prepared to tell the judge if you are ready for the case to proceed, ask for a continuance if you want one (and be ready to state a good reason for one), or any other request you may need to make. If both parties are ready, the case will proceed.
Albany County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court cases are heard in the town or village court for Albany County. The limit a plaintiff can ask for is $3,000. These cases are designed to be resolved informally (so a party does not have to hire an attorney). If you do have a claim for more than $3,000.00, you cannot file two separate actions to bring it under the limit. A claimant or plantiff can only seek monetary relief in small claims court. A party cannot sue to ask the court to order a defendant to take action (ie. fulfill the terms of an advertisement). A party can only sue for monetary relief. You are also able to sue a municipality (city, village, town, or county) and other public agencies, but the law requires you to give notice before you sue them. Notice must be given within 90 days of the incident which gives rise to your case. If you do not provide notice within this window, your case will be dismissed.
What happens if I don’t show up for the hearing date for my small claims court case in Albany County?
If you are the plaintiff and fail to show up to court on the date of your case, the court will dismiss the case. If you are the defendant, the court may grant a default judgment in your absence. Note: Court rules require that the judge wait at least one hour before holding a hearing or entering a judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
Small Claims Court Appeals for Albany County Cases
A party has 30 days from the date of the judgment to file a notice of appeal (or 35 days if you were mailed the court’s judgment). There are additional fees you need to file as well as determining whether a transcript of the case needs to be ordered. The small claims court clerk has specific information regarding fees associated with appeals. Remember, an appellate court will only overturn a judgment if the ruling is “clearly erroneous.” Some people find it useful to consult with an attorney before deciding whether to file an appeal.
Mediation of Small Claims Court Cases in Albany County
Mediation is one way the court offers to try and settle your case without a trial. Mediation is a confidential way to try and resolve the case. It involves a mediator who will try and bring the plaintiff and defendant together to agree on a result that is fair to all (or, more likely, somewhat fair to each party). In Albany County, the mediation provider is:
10 Russell Road, 2nd Floor
Albany, NY 12206
If mediation is not successful, the case remains in small claims court (with a trial). There may be a small filing fee for mediations.
How do I begin a Small Claims Court case?
You must file your case in the correct location (where the defendant lives or if the defendant is a business than where the business has an open office). The court will provide you with the necessary forms to be filled out. One section of the form will ask for a statement of the case. The statement is a fancy way of asking what your case is about. This should be brief and include all important facts. You should note in the statement of the case if you are requesting interest (which happens if your case concerns property damage or a contract specifies an interest amount). Most courts have a clerk who can assist you to ensure you follow the procedures (and answer questions). In the few courts that do not have clerks, the judge can assist you.
The clerk will provide the time and date for the small claims court hearing. The clerk will “serve” the notice of claim by mailing it to the defendant (this is what part of your filing fee funds). This notice informs a defendant the time and location of the hearing and states the reason for the claim being made by plaintiff. The notice is sent by certified mail and first-class mail. If the notice sent by first-class mail is not returned as undeliverable, the defendant is deemed to be “served,” even if the notice sent by certified mail has not been delivered (otherwise a defendant could simply refuse to sign for the certified mail). If the post office cannot deliver notice of the claim and you believe the person still resides in that village or town, the court (clerk) will give you a new hearing date and will instruct you on how to personally serve the defendant. Pursuant to due process, a hearing cannot occur until the defendant has been served. The claim will be dismissed after four months if the defendant has not been served. Dismissal is without prejudice meaning you can refile if you learn new information that the defendant is still residing in that village or town.
Do I get a jury trial in small claims court?
Only the defendant can demand a jury trial in small claims court cases. This demand can be made at any time prior to the hearing date. The defendant must file an affidavit stating the issues of fact the jury is to decide. The judge will then determine if the case should remain in small claims court or be transferred to the regular civil part. If the case remains in small claims court, only six jurors are used.
What is the correct name for the defendant?
For people, you will want the person’s first and last name (their real name, and not a nickname they go by). The court will also ask for the address of the defendant (to send the notice of the small claims court case and hearing). Businesses are more tricky because sometimes you do not know how the business is structured. If you contact the Albany County Clerk’s Office, they will be able to provide you with the proper business name.
Can I file a counterclaim against the Plaintiff?
As a defendant, you can file a counterclaim against the plaintiff (in which you assert that plaintiff owes you money). The counterclaim needs to be filed within five days of your notice of the case, or the court may continue the hearing to a later date. The filing fee for a counterclaim is $3.00. A defendant can file a counterclaim after the five day window, however, the plaintiff can ask for a later hearing date (to allow the plaintiff to prepare to respond to the counterclaim) or the court may set a later hearing date on its own.
Arbitration of Small Claims Court Cases in Albany County
Arbitration is a type of dispute resolution that is like a less-formal trial. In arbitration, an arbitrator, who is often an experienced attorney, hears arguments, weighs evidence, and issues a final judgment on the merits of a claim. If both parties agree to arbitration, an arbitrator will often be able to hear a claim before a judge would (because there are more arbitrators than judges). The arbitrator applies the same law to your case that the judge would. An arbitrator’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.
What are the fancy terms used in these cases?
A party is a person (or entity) on either side of the “v.” (plaintiff and defendant are each parties to the case). A “plaintiff” or “claimant” is the party who brings or initiates the action in Small Claims Court. The defendant is the party who is being sued. A third party is also sometimes brought into a case by a defendant if the defendant feels that the third party may be wholly or partly responsible for plaintiff’s claims. If you are interested in filing a third party claim (as a defendant), contact the local clerk for the filing fees and local procedures.
Can I file my small claims case in
You must bring your action in the municipality (location – village or town) in which the person or business you are suing resides (lives) or has an office open for business.
Can I sue in small claims court?
In order to file an action, you must be 18 years of age or older. If you are younger than 18, your parent or legal guardian is able to sue on your behalf. Usually, corporations, partnerships, or other assignees are unable to sue in Small Claims Court (but they can bring an action in Commercial Claims Court which is located at the same court where your small claims court case would normally be filed). However, these entities are able to be sued in small claims court by people. When a business, corporation, or other entity is sued, the entity is able to authorize a person (usually an employee, director, or attorney) to appear on its behalf.