Preparing and Representing Yourself in Small Claims Court

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  2. April 16, 2013 1:11 am

Preparing and Representing Yourself in Small Claims Court

Being Your Own Lawyer in Small Claims Court

When you need to go to small claims court, you may think of representing yourself. Some people find this to be too big a challenge, while others see this as the only option for keeping small claims court affordable. Small claims courts typically deal with small scale disputes between individuals or between individuals and companies. There will be a dollar maximum in most cases, and this amount will vary by state. The maximum can be anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000, with most states falling in right around $10,000. These are courts that handle only civil matters, and if you are going to represent yourself, you need to prepare properly.

Understanding Court Rules and Decorum
Most of the mistakes made by pro se claimants is that they do not understand court rules or the decorum expected of a person who steps into court. You are expected to be on time, and you are expected to have your case prepared ahead of time. Courts value organizational skills, and attorneys who fail to organize themselves will draw the ire of the judge. In addition, people representing themselves should dress in professional attire, and they should treat the proceeding with a certain level of respect. This means addressing both the judge and the opposing party with a cordial greeting.

Making Deadlines and a Note on Preparedness
The worst thing that you can do in a small claims court setting is to not come with everything you need. If you have to have more time to prepare the case, then you should request a continuance from the court. This should be done well before the day that your case is slated to go. Even if you are not an expert on the law, you should be an expert on the facts of your case. Have those facts known and in hand when you are heading to court.

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