Can I find out if my landlord is a frequent visitor to small claims court?

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Question:

My landlord refuses to return my security deposit so I'm suing her in small claims court. Can I find out if she has had other similar cases filed against her? If she makes a habit of withholding her tenants' deposits, I will be less inclined to settle and more inclined to see if a judge will find for punitive damages.

Answer:

Now you're thinking like a lawyer -- only I mean that in the nicest way. You can find the information you seek by going to the clerk's office at the small claims court and asking to view its list of archived filings. Chances are you'll be looking at microfiche, not actual pieces of paper. While you're at it, if you find an old case, make a note of the name of the judge. That would make Perry Mason really proud -- and the info just might come in handy to you.

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