Preparation of evidence and manuscript

T The most important thing on the day of the trial is to present all the evidence that will support your claim. Photos, written contracts, letters, emails, receipts, recordings, lease agreements, checks, and various other documents are helpful because they will be used as trial evidence. It is better to present the original if possible, as well as a copy for the judge or the other side. You must take the original and a copy (two copies) of the document you want to use as evidence. You should also write in advance what you want to say to the judge and take it with you. If you do not prepare the manuscript in advance, you may sometimes miss an important fact. The process of preparing the manuscript allows you to organize your thoughts well.

Attendance of witnesses and expert witnesses

W Witnesses are useful both from the position of the claimant and the defendant because they provide important information.
The claimant or defendant may testify as a witness themselves, or anyone who is familiar with the case may be a witness. It is helpful to have an expert witness who can understand the core of the case based on knowledge or experience in a particular field.

Make an affidavit if the witness is unable to attend

T The important thing is that all witnesses must attend the trial in person. If a witness is unable to attend the trial, a statement must be made that contains the important content that he or she intends to testify about. If possible, it is better to use an affidavit. An affidavit is the same as an oath and testimony to the court. The applicant and the defendant, as well as the witness, must pledge to tell the truth. If you commit perjury after making a pledge, you may be subject to legal penalties.

Power of subpoena and delivery process

I If, for any reason, a witness refuses to testify and write an affidavit, a subpoena may be requested by the Clerk of the Small Claims Court. A subpoena is a court order that orders a witness to attend a trial or make an affidavit. A witness subpoena may be sent to a witness by an adult over the age of 18 who is not directly involved in the lawsuit. However, the important thing is that the subpoena itself is the responsibility of the claimant. The claimant shall pay the witness a $15 labor fee, and the fee shall be paid immediately upon delivery of the subpoena. The subpoena must be sent before the date of the trial, as the witness needs time to prepare for trial. It is usually considered that sufficient time has been given for the witness to be sent more than five days in advance.

The need for expert witness testimony

A An expert witness is a person who has expertise in related issues. For example, in the case of a medical lawsuit, it will be helpful to call a doctor as a witness. However, in the case of a professional, you must pay for the time spent in court. In addition, expert witnesses cannot be called by subpoena.

A lawyer and a court interpreter

T The small claims court itself was created to give you the opportunity to plead for yourself without the help of a lawyer in the first place. Therefore, a lawyer is not required in a small claims court, but you can hire as many as you want. If there is a special situation where he or she has a physical or mental disability and is unable to plead properly, his or her friend or relative may speak in court on his or her behalf. However, if both the claimant and the defendant have lawyers, the case will be reallocated to a general civil court. If you do not speak English, you have the right to ask for an interpreter. If an interpreter is not provided in time, the trial may be postponed until a date when an interpreter is available.

If you choose an arbitrator, you can get a trial sooner

I In a small claims court, you can choose either a judge or an arbitrator. Arbitrators are experienced lawyers who are specially trained for small claims rulings. Because there are usually more arbitrators than judges, you can get a trial sooner if you give a ruling to the arbitrator. The trial conducted by the arbitrator is simpler in form, but the same law applies as in the trial by the judge. However, it should be remembered that no appeal can be made against the ruling made by the arbitrator. In addition, the jury can also not be called. A jury trial is only possible when the defendant requests one in a trial conducted by the judge.

Settlement is available at any time

T The settlement is welcome at any time. The claimant and the defendant may reach an agreement prior to trial. If the two sides reach a settlement before the trial takes place and the settlement is agreed upon, they must notify the small claims court clerk in writing to prevent them from going unnecessarily to trial. If an agreement has been reached but you need more time for details, you must apply for a postponement of the trial. If an agreement is not reached after multiple efforts, a new trial date will be given.

Differences between Mediation and Trial

T The mediation process is voluntary and a free service provided in secret. The two sides meet with well-trained coordinators. Medication is a way to resolve a case outside of court, and it is possible to make reparations for damaged or missing items. But the mediator is helping to solve problems on both sides, not making rulings like a judge or arbitrator. Take important documents to the mediation as you would during a trial. If an agreement is reached between the two sides, a settlement agreement will be signed that will have legal effect. If no conclusion is reached, the claimant will be able to continue the process with a trial in which a judge or arbitrator will make a ruling. If an agreement is reached through mediation, the clerk of the small claims court must inform you that the case has been terminated.

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