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Advice for Small Claims Court


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#1 comfortingsong

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 11:10 PM

I have a court case tomorrow in small claims. I'm suing my neighbor for when his crazy, manic dog (who was off leash) attacked and bit my dog. Law suit is for $683 and includes vet bills, surgery estimate, and court fees. I have two notarized statements (one of a witness of the attack and one of someone who was paid off by this neighbor when his dog attacked and killed her dog last year), 311 report, letter from vet, all 3 vet bills, and photos of the bite.

If you've been to small claims court, any advice?

Anything else I should think to bring along?

Oh, and my judge mother agreed to come as my legal counsel and witness (she was there when neighbor agreed to pay for the bills and then reneged) . Hope that gets me some extra points.

#2 cynic

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 11:22 PM

Just make sure if it's Judge Judy not to pee on her leg and tell her it's raining.

#3 comfortingsong

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 11:27 PM

Just make sure if it's Judge Judy not to pee on her leg and tell her it's raining.


Ha! I got a letter from her producers asking me to come on the show. I declined.

#4 cynic

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 11:29 PM

Why? You could have been the "anti-sheitel" lady.

#5 comfortingsong

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 11:30 PM

Why? You could have been the "anti-sheitel" lady.


I'd rather have my TV debut in different circumstances.

#6 cynic

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 11:31 PM

First female member of the Federal Kollel?

#7 brianna

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 01:22 AM

I have a court case tomorrow in small claims. I'm suing my neighbor for when his crazy, manic dog (who was off leash) attacked and bit my dog. Law suit is for $683 and includes vet bills, surgery estimate, and court fees. I have two notarized statements (one of a witness of the attack and one of someone who was paid off by this neighbor when his dog attacked and killed her dog last year), 311 report, letter from vet, all 3 vet bills, and photos of the bite.

If you've been to small claims court, any advice?

Anything else I should think to bring along?

Oh, and my judge mother agreed to come as my legal counsel and witness (she was there when neighbor agreed to pay for the bills and then reneged) . Hope that gets me some extra points.

I have been to small claims court. A few tips.

1. Dress appropriately but not black tie - it's small claims court not the Supreme Court.
2. Stick to the facts as you can prove them.
3. State what remedy you are looking for clearly.
3. I don't know if your mother would be considered a valid witness as she's a relative. I would leave her out of this and stick to the statements from other non related parties.
4. Be respectful of the judge. Call him or her "Your honor". [That should probably be tip #1]
5. Do not get emotional.

Lots of luck!
Certainly there is no shortage of married, left-wing harlots who do not cover their hair. Although, they're probably busy sacrificing their children to Ba‛al and filing divorce papers. ~ Milton

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#8 comfortingsong

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 01:27 AM

3. I don't know if your mother would be considered a valid witness as she's a relative. I would leave her out of this and stick to the statements from other non related parties.


Thanks for the tips. The issue with #3 is that she is the only witness who firsthand heard the defendant agree to pay me the money, thereby admitting his guilt. Many times relatives are witnesses, if they witnessed the offense. I think the fact that she is a judge herself makes her more credible in another judge's eyes. Maybe I'm wrong about that last piece, but the fact is that she's an important witness. I don't think it will be invalid because we are related.

4. Be respectful of the judge. Call him or her "Your honor". [That should probably be tip #1]


Also, the issue with NYC is that you most likely do not get a judge but a lawyer as the arbitrator of the case. That also means that you cannot appeal if an arbitrator hears the case. You can insist on a judge, but will most likely told to come back at a later date. Keep in mind, this happened in June, and they were so backed up that I was given a court date 6 months later. I don't really want to wait another six months because I insisted on a judge hearing the case.

#9 Psychodad

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 07:23 AM

let us know how it turns out

#10 LoveToLaugh

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 02:23 PM

How did it go? Thinking of you! Hoping for the best!
God, grant us the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.

#11 comfortingsong

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 04:49 PM

How did it go? Thinking of you! Hoping for the best!


It's at 6:30. I'll post how it went, but I don't know if a judgment is given at the time of the trial. Might be mailed to both parties after. I'm just so curious if he's going to show. I think there's a 50% chance that he won't bother coming.

#12 LoveToLaugh

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 05:01 PM

It's at 6:30. I'll post how it went, but I don't know if a judgment is given at the time of the trial. Might be mailed to both parties after. I'm just so curious if he's going to show. I think there's a 50% chance that he won't bother coming.

Oh I thought it was during the day. Good luck!! I thought of you a few times today wondering how it went.

What happens if the other side doesn't come? Automatic win for you?
God, grant us the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.

#13 brianna

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:03 PM

What happens if the other side doesn't come? Automatic win for you?

Usually, yes.
Certainly there is no shortage of married, left-wing harlots who do not cover their hair. Although, they're probably busy sacrificing their children to Ba‛al and filing divorce papers. ~ Milton

"Are you including as shomer negiya someone who is sleeping with his girlfriend but not shaking hands with the car dealer?" ~ Moshi

"Some people like their corn flakes soggy, other people get off on repression and guilt." ~ Sweet

Notice of New Policy: I now ask people permission before using their quotes.

#14 comfortingsong

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:39 PM

What happens if the other side doesn't come? Automatic win for you?

Usually, yes.

No, this is actually not the case. When the defendant does not show, the claimant still must prove the case. Called inquest.


So, the trial is over! Here are the highlights.

Apparently the court has reduced the nights that they hear small claims cases from 4 nights to 1 night a week, so there were hundreds of people. You could ask for a judge or allow an arbitrator to hear the case. If you ask for a judge, you usually have to come back around 4 times. We chose an arbitrator.

The neighbor actually showed to court with a LAWYER. The lawyer looked like he was just out of school and the bottom of his class.

Arbitrator was frum Jew with a kippah.

When I gave my statement, his ditsy lawyer kept on calling out "hearsay" and "objection," until the arbitrator yelled at him that it isn't criminal court, there is no such thing as objections, and he should be quiet and "chill out." That was pretty funny.

I gave my statement and all my evidence. The arbitrator wouldn't take either of my signed and notarized written statements from witnesses, which was frustrating.

The arbitrator was really impressed that my mother was a retired judge, and gave her props for that.

When it was defendant's turn, his lawyer actually had "exhibits of evidence" - which, wait for this, were photos taped with scotch tape on dividers (like the flimsy pieces of paper that are hole punched that go in a binder in between subjects) with the words "exhibit 1," etc. written on the piece where you write your school subject on the divider.

He claimed that his dog, named "Queenie," is gentle, caring, and only attacked one other dog, so that proves she's nice.

When he lied under oath about having to catch his dog after she ran away after the attack, I asked the arbitrator to remind him that he's under oath and that's illegal to lie. The arbitrator thought that was pretty funny, but reminded him of this and insisted he no longer evade my question and answer it.

His lawyer clearly didn't know any of the laws regarding trial because he kept on admitting that my mother's statement was hearsay, until she finally had to explain to him that if she was there and heard the defendant admitting his guilt, that doesn't fall under the legal definition of hearsay.

His "exhibits of evidence":

1 - A picture of his dog, taken a week later, chained to a gate (as proof of the fact that his dog was chained a week earlier when she allegedly attacked my dog). When I asked, "What does a picture of your dog a week later have anything to do with the day that the dog was off leash and attacked my dog or have to do with this case?" he was appeared very stumped.

2 - A picture of the high gate between our 2 backyards. When I asked what the picture of the backyard has to do with anything when the attack was on the front lawn, he gave me a confused face.

Funny questions his lawyer asked me:

1 - Was your dog on leash during the attack? (response: yes) Follow up question: Is your dog always leashed when she's inside your house? (response: <blank stare> Are you seriously asking me that? You're kidding right?)

2 - How do you know that it was the defendant's dog? Response: You see that cute divider with the "exhibit of evidence" you have? You see this little window that's all the way on top corner of the photo? That's my bedroom window. I see the dog every day from right up there. (He very quickly said "I retract from the record," to which the arbitrator responded, "How many times do I have to tell you that there is no record? It's small claims court!"

Mid-trial, arbitrator answered his phone, which was strange.

The best was that smack in the middle of the trial, a chassidish guy walks in, shakes the arbitrator's hand, and sits down by the bench to listen along. When my husband asked, after the trial, if he was the arbitrator's chavrusah, he said, "something like that." He actually walked in during trial, talked to the arbitrator, and just sat AT THE BENCH and watched. It was weird.

Overall, I think I had a strong case and that I'll win. Judgment will be mailed in 3 days or so.

My issue is that once I win, I'm worried about collecting the money.

It was an enlightening experience. I highly recommend it.

#15 Psychodad

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:45 PM

there are some real weird people out there. I hope you get your money

#16 LoveToLaugh

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:53 PM

Thanks for the follow up, its always interesrting to see what happens after the OP. Sounds like it went pretty well even though he showed up with a lawyer! Good luck with the outcome!
God, grant us the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.

#17 brianna

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:03 PM

It sounds like the lawyer hurt his case rather than helping. I think you have a pretty good shot at this.
Certainly there is no shortage of married, left-wing harlots who do not cover their hair. Although, they're probably busy sacrificing their children to Ba‛al and filing divorce papers. ~ Milton

"Are you including as shomer negiya someone who is sleeping with his girlfriend but not shaking hands with the car dealer?" ~ Moshi

"Some people like their corn flakes soggy, other people get off on repression and guilt." ~ Sweet

Notice of New Policy: I now ask people permission before using their quotes.

#18 Savannah

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:10 PM

Great episode of Law & Order: Small Claims Court! :biggrin:

#19 comfortingsong

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:12 PM

I know. It totally felt like a real live TV episode! And we got to watch another one of them from the front row. I felt like I should be paying for the entertainment. :)

#20 Psychodad

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:13 PM

Judge Judy would have done it quicker. Is she in NY?




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