Small claims case I filed myself was closed because my case was out of jurisdiction. Retained an attorney to file in district court. In general, I know a small claims case does not require a lawyer and can be tried in 3 months. A district court case usually requires a lawyers services and can can anywhere from 9 months to a year and a half to reach resolution. Am I correct with my assumption and can anyone briefly explain the pros and cons of each process/court?
The JP Court is the 'people's court. Rules are relaxed. No attorney is required. Restricted to cases of $10k or less. Requirement for the sitting justice does not include a law degree or being a licensed attorney. Limited in scope of remedy available.
State District Court will have an experienced attorney as the judge. No upper limit on the amount that can be awarded. Many remedies available, including injunctions. Rules must be adhered to.
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Small claims court has fewer technicalities, so a non-lawyer can figure it out. But that means it also lacks the safeguards built into the higher courts. The idea is that if the amount is relatively small, the ease of use outweighs the potential for an inadvertent injustice. Cases in district court where the amount is less than $100,000.00, there are rules meant to streamline the process somewhat without giving up too many safeguards.
This is not legal advice. You should always discuss the specifics of your issue in person with an attorney. Be aware that there are time limits on all claims that depend on the kind of claim, so do not delay in seeking an attorney.
Small claims courts are courts of the people. They have more relaxed, and oftentimes fewer, rules to learn, but your damages caps are lower. When at all possible, I would recommend going to County or District Court as they tend to be more well-verse with law, etc. However, if you are doing this pro se, (without an attorney) you may be more comfortable and better suited in a small claims court.
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