Going to Court

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We have improved online instructions for Small Claims cases, including COVID-19 related rental debt.

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Be Prepared for Your Trial

  1. Plan what you are going to say
    You will have to explain to the judge why you are filing a claim and what you want him or her to order.  Decide what your main points are and take proof. Try to think of what the other person might say and how you will answer. You can also talk to a small claims advisor or a lawyer before court.

  2. Prepare the proof to take to court
    Take any papers that support your story and take 2 more copies of everything. This is called "evidence." Evidence can be:
    • Contracts
    • Estimates (take at least 2)
    • Bills
    • Photographs
    • Diagrams that show how an accident happened 
    • Police reports
    If you need papers that someone else has, fill out a Small Claims Subpoena for Personal Appearance and Production of Documents at Trial or Hearing and Declaration (Form SC-107) and request these documents. Learn more about subpoenas.

  3. Take copies of all your court papers and your Proof of Service

  4. Take people to support your story (witnesses)
    Take witnesses who saw what happened or who are experts on that subject. For example, a neighbor who saw the accident or a mechanic who looked at your car.
    • Do not bring people unless you know they will support you. Witnesses who are not friends or relatives may be more effective in proving your case. But sometimes the only witnesses are your friends and relatives. They should testify and present themselves in a professional manner and be objective and not emotional.
    • If you need a witness to go to your hearing that cannot or will not go voluntarily, fill out a Small Claims Subpoena (Form SC-107) to order them to go. Learn more about subpoenas.

  5. If you do not speak English well, take an interpreter to help you
    Ask your court clerk at least 1 week before your hearing to see if the court can provide an interpreter for you. In some courts, they can provide interpreters for free if you qualify for a fee waiver. If not, you have to take your own interpreter. Do not ask a child or a witness to interpret for you.  Get tips to help you work with a court interpreter.
    • You have the right to get your hearing delayed so you can get an interpreter.

  6. If you are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or have another disability request an accommodation
    Ask your court's ADA coordinator or court clerk at least 1 week before your hearing. Get more information about the rights of persons with disabilities and a form to request an accommodation.

You are now ready to go to your trial!