Small claims provides an informal process to resolve small civil disputes involving money or damages of $10,000 or less. Attorneys are not allowed to represent people in small claims without special permission from the court. Filing fee information and forms are available on this site, and at the information window located on the first floor of the courthouse.
Before filing a claim with the court, the plaintiff (person filing a claim) must make an effort to collect the claim from the defendant (other party). The plaintiff should talk to or at least notify the defendant in writing, that the defendant owes the plaintiff money or damages. If the parties are unable to settle the matter out of court, the plaintiff may file a small claims action.
Once the plaintiff files a claim and serves it on the defendant, the defendant has 14 days to either pay the claim or file an answer and request a hearing. If the defendant does not do one of those things, the plaintiff may ask the court to enter a default judgment against the defendant. Forms and instructions for doing this are available in the forms section of this site.
If the defendant requests a hearing, the court will set the case for a hearing in front of a judge. Each party must appear at the hearing to avoid a judgment being entered against him or her. Both parties should bring any relevant evidence, including witnesses, to present at the hearing. Formal rules of evidence do not apply. Each party should expect about 15 minutes or so to present evidence. The judge may announce the ruling at the end of the hearing or may take more time to consider the case and notify the parties of the decision by letter.