Yes, in small claims court, you could just show the text messages to the judge. However, because you normally must exchange your evidence with the other side just before (on the day of) the small claims trial, it is often easier and more helpful to print out the text messages that you wish the judge to consider.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.
Besides what Mr. Chen said, it depends on the purpose for which you are showing the messages to the judge. If it is at trial and either side wants to create a record for appeal, the court would keep your phone until the evidence was released. I'm certain you don't want it to do that.
I agree with both of the attorneys above and add that it is always best to print or otherwise duplicate incriminating/important text messages or emails to ensure they are not lost, stolen, deleted or "missing" when you really need to utilize them -- especially if the crux of your case/defense depends on them.
The above information does not constitute legal advice and does not form the basis of an attorney-client relationship. Lisa M. Blasser, Esq. and Blasser Law are not responsible for any actions or inactions that you decide to pursue in lieu of the above advice.