Discovery in Small Claims Court?

Asked about 3 years ago - Seattle, WA

Can you file for discovery in small claims court? Im concerned that a former employer has created fraudulent documents to validate his reasons for suing me. If he has produced un-notorized or non-witnessed documents, what do I have to defend against them?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Jeffrey L Smoot

    Pro

    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . You should definitely be prepared to offer documents and witness statements at the small claim hearing to rebut any false documents and any other evidence that the employer may offer against you. If you lose in small claims court you have the right to appeal to the superior court. The appeal will involve a trial de novo, a completely new trial as if the original trial in small claims court had never taken place, but under RCW 12.36.055 the appeal is "upon the record of the case" so it is important to build a record in the small claims case that can be used at the trial de novo should you appeal. The superior court is more likely to allow discovery relating to questioned documents if it goes that far. Good luck!

  2. Charles Joseph Michael Candiano

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Discovery in Small Claims is usually only available with leave of Court. Small claims is more informal and "user-friendly" so that individuals may represent themselves. The judges will generally let anything into evidence, giving less "weight" to items such as those you mention which would NOT be admissible in other settings.

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    Legal Disclaimer:

    Mr. Candiano is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Indiana. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. You may contact the writer with these links:

    ccandiano@themargolisfirm.com
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  3. Michael E Catania

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . Your defense against such documents, if the judge allows them in evidence, will be to attack there credibility and authenticity. If you have an idea as to what specific documents the Plaintiff will attempt to enter, you should have proof of your own to rebut it, i.e., sworn affidavits, live testimony, etc. Non binding mediation is typically offered to parties on the day of trial. You may want to take advatage of the opportunity if for no other reason then to flesh out what documents Plaintiff intends on introducing at trial.

    You will have to check with the Court with regards to discovery. Typically, discovery is not permitted in small claims court absent judicial permission.

    Hope this helps and good luck.

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