Small Claims Court is a special division of Justice Court. Small Claims Court is designed to hep parties who do not have attorneys resolve their disputes quickly and inexpensively. Claims in Small Claims Court must be $10,000.00 or less, and judges can award only monetary damages. This means that judges in Small Claims Court can only order the other party to pay money. They cannot order the other party to perform an action, such as returning property or ceasing to play loud music.
Generally, parties in Small Claims Court represent themselves without an attorney. This is sometimes called “appearing pro se” or being “self-represented.” Attorneys are allowed in Small Claims Court. However, the winning party in a small claims case cannot collect attorney’s fees from the losing party. Therefore, a party who hires an attorney will bear the burden of paying that attorney. Because parties generally represent themselves in Small Claims Court, the procedures and rules of evidence are more relaxed than in ordinary Justice Court.
For information on how to file a small claims complaint, or to collect on a small claims judgement, download the Court’s Guide to Small Claims.
Additional small claims forms are available on the Forms page. https://eastforkjusticecourt.com/forms/
The court has established a program of mediation for filed Small Claims cases to aid members of our community with resolving their disputes. The parties will meet with a trained mediator to try and reach a mutually agreeable solution. The mediator facilitates a respectful environment to help the parties look at their goals and options so they can find a solution that leaves everyone satisfied. There are no additional fees for the mediation. The mediation is confidential. Nothing that is said or done in mediation is admissible, or can be considered, by the judge at a Small Claims bench trial.
Mediation can include agreements that include provisions that cannot be ordered in Small Claims Court, such as the return of a pet or the repair of a car. The provisions may be tailored to the meet the needs of the individual participants.
After the mediation concludes, the mediator will prepare a Mediator’s Report which outlines the agreement or non-agreement. The parties will sign the Mediator’s Report, and it will be filed with the Court. That agreement then becomes a written contract and can be enforced by both parties.
If one party breaches the agreement, the other party can obtain a judgment without having to go to a hearing by notifying the court of the default in a written motion. Both parties should be aware that if they sign an agreement in mediation and then breach the agreement, they will not have an opportunity to contest the underlying issue in court.
If an agreement is not reached during mediation, the Mediator’s Report will reflect this. There is no penalty for failing to reach an agreement. Your matter will be set for trial and you will get a notice of the date by mail.
If either party fails to appear for the mediation, the Mediator’s Report will reflect this. The judge will determine how the matter will proceed and all parties will be notified by mail.