Getting to the Courthouse

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Before you locate the right courtroom, you obviously have to get to the right building. Sometimes doing this can be tricky, because small claims courts are often not in the main courthouse. Like a half-forgotten relative, many are housed wherever the city or county has an empty room. In short, don't assume that you know where your small claims court is unless you've been there before or have asked the court clerk for specific directions. Plaintiffs have already had to find the clerk's office to file their papers, so they probably know where the courtroom is, but defendants should check this out in advance. Be sure, too, that your witnesses know exactly where and when to show up. And do plan to be a few minutes early–people who rush in flustered and late start with a strike against them.

Small claims cases are most often scheduled either at 9 a.m or early in the afternoon. Usually a number of cases are set for the same time and heard in turn. In other words, your case may be scheduled for 9 a.m. butmay not actually start until about 10 a.m. Arrive a few minutes before 9 a.m. and use any wait time to watch other cases before your own begins. In larger cities, Saturday or evening sessions may also be held. If it is not convenient for you to go to court during business hours and night court is an option, request that your case be scheduled at one of these other sessions.

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