Presenting Your Testimony and Evidence in Small Claims Court
Oct 10, · the evidence you intend to introduce (documents, photographs, receipts, and the like). For answers to common small claims court questions, see Small Claims Court FAQ. Organizing Your Small Claims Court Presentation It's essential that you organize your case ahead of funlovestory.com: Cara O'neill, Attorney. By Judge Philip Straniere Sometimes what you need to prove your small claims case is not testimony from other people but hard evidence in the form of documents or photographs that graphically prove your point. It’s your job to gather and present this evidence to the court. How to place photographs into evidence.
Presenting your case in front of a small claims court judge can be stressful. But there are ways to combat the nerves. The fir way is how many carrot seeds to plant come to court with a well-organized gameplan.
It's essential that you organize your case ahead of time. One way to do this is by dividing the witness testimony—both yours and the testimony of anyone else you bring—into a list of the several main points you want to make. Make sure to indicate where you plan to introduce any documents or other physical evidence you wish to show the judge. Your witness will need to testify as to the authenticity of the document.
For instance, you neex testify that a copy of a letter is a true and correct copy of the demand letter zmall sent to the defendant the person being sued requesting payment. Learn more about offering witness testimony. Let's assume a hotel's failed to return your deposit when you canceled a wedding reception three months before the event was to be held.
This would be eevidence small claims breach of contract case —a type of case regularly brought before a small claims court. Here is a list of what your key points—and the evidence to back them up—might look like:. Find out about other common types of small court cases. A defendant must wait to present until after the plaintiff finishes doing so. A defendant can't know in advance what the plaintiff will say and what evidence the plaintiff will present until hearing the evidence.
Thus, Valley View, like any other defendant, will need to adopt a little more coutt approach. Still, because Valley View representatives have probably talked to or exchanged letters with the plaintiff, they probably have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Accordingly, Claimw View's list might look like this:. The information provided on this site is not legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or will be formed by use of the site.
Show the judge the letter from Valley View refusing a refund. This was true even though I smmall 83 days before the event. Show the judge your dhat letter. The contract I signed with the hotel allowed a full refund if the cancellation occurred more than 60 days before the event. Show the contract to the judge. While Valley View claims they sent me a letter about the policy change, I never claime a letter and had no idea of the policy change until I canceled the event and asked for my money back.
Even if Valley View did send me a letter, the change should not affect my contract, which was signed before the policy change. I never signed a new contract, so the existing contract was still valid. In any event, the hotel had a duty to try and re-rent the banquet room to minimize any damages it suffered. And I canceled 83 days in advance, which was plenty of time to do so. Ninety days is an unreasonably long cancellation policy. Here is a list of the cancellation policies of five other hotels in the area, all of which allow a full refund on much shorter notice than 83 days.
Give the list to the judge. Example of Defendant's Small Tor Responsive Testimony A defendant must wait to present until after the plaintiff finishes doing so.
The reason was we turned down two other receptions for that same day before plaintiff canceled. Show the judge letters or notes of telephone conversations declining the other receptions. Although it is true that the written contract allowed cancellation before 60 days before the event, the plaintiff was notified in two different ways that this policy had been changed to 90 days: A sign on the reservations desk where the plaintiff sat clai,s sign the contract. Show sign to judge.
Testimony of Snall Ells, who booked the reservation. Angie will testify that she included written notice of the change with the contract package. Show judge a copy of the notice. Talk to a Lawyer Need a lawyer? Start here. Practice Area Please clxims Zip Code. How it Works Briefly tell us about your case Provide your contact information Choose attorneys to contact you.
Lawsuits and Court. Filing a Lawsuit. Representing Yourself. Working With a Lawyer. How to Find amall Lawyer. Cost of a Lawyer. Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court. Represent Yourself in Court. Related Products More. View More. Get Professional Help. How It Works Briefly tell us about your case Provide your contact what is a realistic fiction story Choose attorneys to contact you.
Organizing Your Small Claims Court Presentation
developed with small claims court in mind!) “The rules of evidence applicable in the trial of civil actions generally are observed.” NCGS 7A? “In a trial before the judge, sitting without a jury, the ordinary rules as to the competency of evidence applied in a trial before a jury are to some extent relaxed. Dec 16, · The Importance of Evidence in Small Claims Court Telling your story in small claims court requires proving your case in an orderly, systematic manner. To do this, you usually need witnesses and/or admissible evidence. A jurisdiction’s rules of evidence will indicate what is Occupation: Insurance Lawyer. The small claims court may not accept an affidavit or someone’s out of court or hearsay statement. In some cases you may need original documents, and must be able to introduce them just as at a regular trial – and this sometimes can be very difficult.
This guide will explain how you can maximize your ability to win a Small Claims Court case — whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. A plaintiff is the person who filed the complaint. A defendant is the responding person against whom the lawsuit has been filed.
If the defendant files a cross complaint against the plaintiff, the defendant will now also be a cross plaintiff and the plaintiff will also be a cross defendant. This becomes important as discussed below. Small claims cases are decided by a judge or commissioner. Although attorneys are not allowed to practice in Small Claims Court, they may be a witness and can come with you to the courthouse.
However, they will not be able to argue or present evidence on your behalf. This means you need to effectively represent yourself. When you are the plaintiff or a cross plaintiff in a Small Claims Court action, you are trying to obtain a money judgment against someone to compensate you for damages caused by that person or entity.
It is important that you prepare your case thoroughly to give you the best chance at winning. A plaintiff who loses a Small Claims Court case cannot appeal. Only a defendant can appeal a small claims case. If there is a cross complaint filed in a small claims action, either side that loses may file an appeal as the parties are both a plaintiff and a defendant. If you are the defendant in a Small Claims Court, you are trying to avoid being held liable to the plaintiff for some amount of money.
Whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant, prepare your case thoroughly the first time. If you are the person filing the lawsuit the plaintiff , you will speak first at trial. Remember: At trial there are usually significant disagreements between the parties about what happened. You need to persuade the judge that your version of the facts is accurate. Even if you are telling the truth and the other party is not, that may not be readily apparent to a judge if you do not have witnesses and documents supporting your position.
So, how you present your side is very important. Even if the other side is lying, if their version is presented in a more organized or believable manner, the court may decide their version is the truth. This is why written documentation and evidence is important in addition to oral testimony. Write a letter to the defendant, explaining that you want them to pay you a certain amount of money and the reasons why. Give the defendant a reasonable time in which to respond.
Fourteen 14 days is a generally a reasonable time to respond. As a result of the COVID pandemic, the demand for payment requires additional effort and documentation by a landlord. This does not apply to cases where the case was pending before January 29, or unlawful detainer cases.
If you are suing a business, it is important to know whether it is a corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship, and whether it is doing business under a fictitious business name. Fill out the forms accurately. You must indicate the dollar amount that you are suing for, and you must prove the amount of your damages. The increase does not apply to plaintiffs who are corporations, partnerships, unincorporated associations, governmental entities, LLCs, or other entities.
Until July 1, , a residential landlord may file a small claims case for the full damage amount owed to them, regardless of the amount, so long as the damages stem from COVID rental debt. This section also removes any limitation on the number of cases a plaintiff files in small claims so long as the case is based on the recovery of COVID rental debt.
It is very important to name the defendant correctly, because you will only be able to collect from the party or parties whose name is exactly the same as the name that appears on your claim.
List any fictitious business names as well. Example: Joseph F. Stanley, an individual dba Stanley Stores. Stanley and Sara R. If you are suing a partnership , name both the partnership and the partners as individuals as well. Stanley, an individual, Peter R.
If you are suing a corporation, write the exact name of the corporation. Example: Stanley Stores, Inc. You should double check the names of business entities wherever possible, which can be done on the Secretary of State website here.
Follow the rules on the Proof of Service forms for accurate service. While service by certified mail option 3 seems the simplest, it is not always the best method. It can be difficult to obtain good service by certified mail.
The defendant may refuse to sign for the letter, or the post office may not return the certified mail slip to you by your court date. If either of these two things happens, your case cannot move forward. In order for the case to proceed to trial, you must have effectively served the lawsuit and have proof with you on the day of trial. You must instruct the server where to serve the defendant. If the defendant has moved, address a letter to him or her at the last known address.
If you have a telephone number, use a reverse directory to find an address. Reverse directories can be found at libraries or on the internet. If you have a post office box listing for the defendant, you can request the name, street address, and phone number of the holder of a post office box from the post office by completing and submitting a form to the post office.
Service may be personal i. The person with whom the documents are left must be told what they are. The server must also mail a copy of the documents by first class mail to the defendant at the address where the documents were left. A copy of the documents must be served on the defendant at least 15 days before the hearing if the defendant lives in the county in which the trial will take place, or 20 days before the hearing if the defendant lives outside of the county in which the trial will take place.
If service is by mail, the claim is considered served 10 days after the copy is mailed. The defendant need not accept the documents in order to be considered served unless the documents are served by certified mail as discussed above.
Once the defendant has been correctly identified, the documents can literally be dropped at their feet if they refuse to accept them when they are handed to them. The proof of service form must be filed with the small claims clerk. The clerk can tell you of any time limitations you have in filing it. For example, in San Mateo County it must be filed at least 48 hours before the trial. It is also advisable to bring a copy of the filed Proof of Service with you on the date of trial in order to prove that it was filed.
Sometimes documents get lost, misplaced, or somehow otherwise do not reach the court file and you will not be able to proceed with your case without this proof of service. In certain situations, someone may appear on behalf of a plaintiff or defendant in a small claims case. Remember that attorneys cannot appear for you in court. You cannot testify as to what someone else experienced as this is inadmissible hearsay.
If the witness is a friend, ask him or her to testify in court for you. But if you have doubts, subpoena the witness see below. If your witness will not come to court voluntarily or will not voluntarily provide the documents or records you need, you can subpoena them. A Subpoena Form SC is a court order that requires a person to come to court or to bring certain papers or records to court.
Subpoenaed documents must be delivered to the court on or before the date of the trial. Make sure you read the subpoena carefully and fill it out correctly. A copy of the subpoena must be personally delivered to the witness. Any person including yourself may deliver the subpoena. You must return the original subpoena, to the court and serve the copy to the witness.
Be sure to keep a copy of the subpoena for your own records as well. Make sure you have the subpoena served on the witness properly. Witness fees for law officers are higher. If a witness asks for fees, they do not have to appear if the fees are not paid.
The person who serves the subpoena should be prepared to pay the fees at the time of service if they are requested. If the witness does not ask for fees, you do not have to offer them. Again you should keep a filed copy for your records. BUT: If the witness will be unavailable the day of trial due to illness, death in the family, business trip, or on vacation , you may want to ask that your trial date be postponed.
The next best alternative is to get an original signed declaration from the witness. Use a Declaration Form MC , writing out typed would be better a clear, concise statement of what happened. Having a statement notarized is not the same thing! If it is not signed under penalty of perjury, it is considered hearsay and may be given little or no consideration by the judge, even if it is notarized.
This is because the judge then has the chance to personally see and hear the witness. It can help you win your case because credibility is always an issue, remember the judge is deciding which set of facts is true. If you are the plaintiff, it is very important that you tell the judge quickly, and in an organized fashion, what happened.
This is your opportunity to tell your side of the case. Prepare a chronology, or a step-by-step accounting of the events. Write down the dates, times, places, and names of people that are important to your case. It will help you remember the important events so that you can tell your story more quickly in an organized manner. Also, you will impress the judge if you are asked a question about a date or time, and you can answer it right away.