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What Happens At The Trial?

When you arrive at the courthouse, report to the courtroom where your case is assigned. When your case is called by the judge, come forward to the counsel table. Before any party or witness presents testimony, the judge will place that person under oath to tell the truth.

Try not to be nervous—remember a trial in small claims court is informal. The judge will ask the plaintiff to give his or her side first, then will ask the defendant for his or her explanation. You will have a limited time to present your side of the case. Be brief and stick to the facts. The judge may interrupt you with questions, which you should answer truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. Be polite to the judge, your opponent, and court staff. Follow the judge’s instruction, do not interrupt your opponent or the judge, and try to be patient.

After both sides have been heard by the judge, he or she will normally immediately announce the decision, prepare and sign a judgment. All parties receive a copy of the judgment.

What If My Opponent Does Not Appear For Trial?

If the plaintiff appears and the defendant fails to appear for trial, the plaintiff will be granted judgment for the amount of the claim proven in court, plus allowable costs - provided the plaintiff can show proof of service. If the plaintiff fails to appear, the claim is dismissed. In some instances, the Court may permit the plaintiff to start over if good cause is shown for the plaintiff’s non-appearance.