Jurisdiction The Magistrate Court has jurisdiction to handle civil claims where the amount in controversy or the value of the property at issue is $15,000 or less.
Procedures for Filing a Statement of Claim The Clerk of Magistrate Court provides carbonized forms with the correct number of copies required for filing and serving a Statement of Claim. An applicant may appear in person in the office of the Clerk of Magistrate Court, Room 240, 325 East Washington Street, and the Clerk will assist in the filing of the paperwork. An out of county resident who would prefer to have the forms mailed should contact the Clerk of Magistrate Court by phone. The forms must be completely filled out and properly notarized. Link to Instructions for Filing a Statement of Claim.
The filing fee is $100 for one defendant, and $50 for each additional defendant per case. Checks should be made payable to the Magistrate Court.
A person who has been served with a civil claim has 30 days to file an answer. If an answer is not filed within 30 days, the defendant is in default. A defendant may file an answer from the 31st to the 45th day upon payment of court costs. After 45 days expire from service, a defendant may only file an answer if allowed by a judge after filing a written request explaining the reason for the delay. Download the Answer form.
If the defendant fails to file an answer within 45 days, the plaintiff may request a default judgment. A plaintiff wishing to obtain a default judgment should file an Affidavit for Default Judgment with the Clerk of Magistrate Court. Depending on the type of damages sought and the proof provided with the statement of claim, a default hearing may be required.
If a defendant files an answer or a plaintiff requests a default judgment that requires a hearing, a hearing will be scheduled within 30 days of the date of the answer or request, but no sooner than 15 days. Both parties will have the right to present evidence and call witnesses. The parties should bring any relevant evidence with them to court, including copies of the contract, receipts, ledgers, photographs, or other relevant items.
Prior to the hearing, the parties will have the opportunity to speak to see if the matter can be resolved without a hearing. A mediator may be provided by the court to assist the parties in discussing the matter, at no additional cost.
Witnesses If a party has witnesses, the party should bring them to the hearing. Written statements may not be accepted as evidence. If assistance is needed to obtain the attendance of witnesses, a Request for Subpoena form should be completed and returned to the Clerk of Magistrate Court along with the required fee.