Small Claims Court
A state court that resolves disputes involving relatively small amounts of money -- usually between $2,000 and $10,000, depending on the state. Adversaries usually appear without lawyers -- in fact, some states forbid lawyers in small claims court -- and recount their side of the dispute in plain English. Evidence, including the testimony of eyewitnesses and expert witnesses, is relatively easy to present because small claims courts do not follow the formal rules of evidence that govern regular trial cases. A small claims judgment has the same force as does the judgment of any other state court, meaning that if the loser -- now called the "judgment debtor" -- fails to pay the judgment voluntarily, it can be collected using normal collection techniques, such as property liens and wage garnishments.