Home
General Information
Fees & Forms
Local Rules
Court RFQs & RFPs
News and Media
Employment Opportunities
Court Locations
Site Map
Glossary of Legal Terms
Court Calendars
Appeals
Civil 
Criminal
Exhibits
Family & Children
Family Law Facilitator/Self Help
Jury Services
Juvenile
Landlord / Tenants
Restraining Orders
Small Claims
Traffic
Grand Jury
Security Screening
Related Links
 

The Trial

What if I cannot appear at the scheduled date?

What can I do to prepare for the trial?

Can I get a statement from witnesses that cannot appear at trial?

How do I subpoena witnesses and documents?

Do I have to pay the witness I subpoena?

Who can serve the subpoena?

Can I subpoena private personal information like bank or employee records?

Can I have the subpoenaed information sent to me?

What should I do on the day of trial?

Who hears and decides my case?

Can I ask the other party questions?

Can I show a DVD in trial?

Do I have to file another lawsuit if I did not file or bring to trial a valid proof of service and the case was dropped?

What happens to the evidence I give to the Court?

Is there a recording made of the trial?

Return to the Small Claims Advisory Main Page

To access any of the links highlighted in blue that are found on this page, you will need version 5.0 (or higher) of the free
 Adobe Acrobat Reader 

What if I cannot appear at the scheduled date?

If you find out sufficiently ahead of time that you cannot come to court, then you should file for a postponement at least 10 days prior to trial. You need to file a Request to Postpone Small Claims Hearing (Form SC-110).

What can I do to prepare for the trial?

Have all your documents ready in chorological order.  You should then make two additional photocopies of those documents - 1 for the judicial officer and 1 for the other party.

If you have witnesses you can bring to support your argument then do so. But be careful you do not bring too many witnesses who will say the same thing.

Can I get a statement from witnesses that cannot appear at trial?

You can use a blank Declaration (Form MC-030) in which a witness can give a statement in support of your argument. If the statement is from an expert witness who is giving testimony on technical issues, make sure the witness lays out his/her qualifications that make him/her an expert on those issues. At the end of every statement, be sure the witness adds the following language:

"I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct"

and sign it.

How do I subpoena witnesses and documents?

For those witnesses that will not come to court voluntarily, you can fill out and ask the court the issue a Small Claims Subpoena for Personal Appearance and Production of Documents and Things at Trial or Hearing and Declaration (Form SC-107). Of course you must weigh carefully whether forcing someone to come to court to testify would benefit your case more than the possibility the witness may give unfavorable testimony.

You can also subpoena documents by filing the same Small Claims Subpoena (Form SC-107). You can have the subpoenaed party just provide the documents to the court without appearing or to bring the documents to court and testify.

Do I have to pay the witness I subpoena?

A witness who is subpoenaed to appear and give testimony in court can ask for fees up to $35 per day plus 20 cents per mile each way. Witness fees for government employees and law enforcement personnel are $150 per day.

Who can serve the subpoena?

Anyone 18 years of age or older, including a party to the lawsuit, can serve a subpoena.

Can I subpoena private personal information like bank or employee records?

It may be possible for you to subpoena certain private, sensitive information. However, anytime you are subpoenaing someone's consumer information, financial records, or employee files, you must give notice to the person whose records are being sought. Use a form called Notice to Consumer or Employee (Judicial Council Form 982(a)(15.5)) to give the required notice and also to prove to the party being subpoenaed that you have given due notice to the person whose records are being sought.

The person whose records are being subpoenaed can then file an objection to the release of his information to you and the court will have to ultimately decide whether the records are material and can be subpoenaed.

Can I have the subpoenaed information sent to me?

No. The law does not allow any pre-trial discovery in a small claims action. That means any subpoenaed information will be sent directly to the court in a sealed envelope to be opened only by a judicial officer, normally at the time of the trial.

What should I do on the day of trial?

You should come a bit earlier than the time your trial is scheduled for. If you arrive late, your case may be heard without you.  There will be several other cases assigned to the same time as yours, so you may have to wait to have your case heard.

Children are not allowed in the courtroom, so you should not bring them with you.

Come to court organized and prepared.

Before your trial starts, you will be asked to sign a consent form to have your case heard by a pro tem. If you decline, your case will be postponed to a later date.

When your case is called, you will stand at the podium in front of the judge pro tem.  You will be asked to present your evidence and give your testimony. The plaintiff will argue his/her case first then the defendant will put on his/her defense. Some judicial officers will take an active role in asking questions, others may not.  Always address the judge and not the other party.

If you are not fluent in the English language, you must bring an interpreter with you.  Small Claims courts do not provide interpreters.

The court does provide for hearing for impaired persons.  Request for this type of service must be made five (5) days before your court date.

Reasonable and calm behavior is highly recommended during the trial.

Who hears and decides my case?

Normally a pro tem judicial officer will hear your case. A pro tem judicial officer is an attorney with at least 5 years of experience who volunteers his/her time and legal knowledge.

Before your case can go to trial, you and the other party will be asked to consent to a pro tem judicial officer hearing your case. If either of you decline, then a Judge will hear your case. However, because of the great demand on the Judge' time, your case will have to be postponed to another date.

Can I ask the other party questions?

No. All presentations and questions must be directed to the judicial officer in a polite and reasonable fashion.

Can I show a DVD in trial?

You may bring one in a DVD format, but you should let the courtroom clerk or the bailiff know that you wish to show a DVD. You should then ask for the judicial officer's permission before offering the DVD as evidence.

Do I have to file another lawsuit if I did not file or bring to trial a valid proof of service and the case was dropped?

If your  case was dropped because you failed to file before or bring to the trial a valid, completed proof of service for each defendant, then you must get another trial date; you do not have to re-file your lawsuit.  When you receive the lawsuit papers with the new trial date on them, have each defendant be served and be sure your process server fills out and signs the proof(s) of service. You should then make certain that the proof(s) is/are filed with the court clerk or bring it/them to the trial.

What happens to the evidence I give to the Court?

If you want your evidence returned, it is very important that you request the evidence back at the end of the trial. If the judicial officer wants to keep the evidence until he/she decides the case at a later time, then make a clear arrangement how the evidence will be returned to you.

Is there a recording made of the trial?

No.

 

 
Superior Court of California, Kings County
All contents copyright (C) 2003, All rights reserved.