Can my case be heard by a jury?Any party can make a request to have their case heard by a jury. The request must be in writing and signed. The written request must be filed with the Small Claims Clerk’s Office before the first court date. The Court may extend the time to file the request for a jury demand upon request by the party.
If the defendant wants to request a jury trial, a verified answer requesting the case to be heard by a jury must be filed on or before the first court date. A “verified answer” is an answer that the defendant has sworn to in front of a clerk or notary public.
After a jury demand is made, the case will no longer be heard in the Small Claims Branch. The case will be assigned to an Associate Judge in the Civil Division of Superior Court. In jury demand cases, however, all documents must be filed with the Small Claims Clerk’s Office. The case type will change when a jury demand is filed. For example, case number 01 SC2 0003 will change to 01 SCJ 0003. There is a $75 fee for filing a jury demand, unless the fee is waived by the judge.
Do I need a lawyer to help me with my small claims case?The Small Claims Branch is less formal than other branches of the Court. The procedures are simple and costs kept low so that most people do not need a lawyer to represent them in their small claims case.
You must be 18 years old to file a case. Someone who is under the age of 18 or an incompetent person can only sue through a "representative or next of friend". An “incompetent person” is someone who a judge believes cannot make legal decisions for him or herself. A “representative or next of friend” is a person acting for the minor child or incompetent person. A business that files a claim in the Small Claims Branch must have a lawyer.
Do I need to file an answer?In most small claims cases, defendants are not required to file an answer, plea, or other defense(s) in writing. Instead, defendants can just tell the judge why they disagree that they owe some or all of the money the plaintiff is suing for when they are in court.
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