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Small Claims Information

Honorable Butch L. Gunnels - St. Johns Justice Court
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  • The total amount of the claim filed may not exceed $2500.00 and may be filed for money debts, property damage, personal injury or cancellation of a contract.
  • Attorneys are not allowed to participate unless all parties agree.
  • There is no right to a jury trial in a small claims case. Parties are heard by the judge and a determination is made by the judge.
  • Neither party may appeal a decision in a small claims case.
  • Date of Service refers to the date a party is served (receives and signs for paperwork) with case documents. Defendant is generally served by the Court via certified mail or the Plaintiff may serve the Defendant by certified mail. Complaint or Answer may be served by a constable or private process server at the parties own expense and proof must be provided to the Court that the other party has received the documents.
  • Court staff may not give legal interpretations, offer advice, do legal research or complete forms.
  • There is a fee of $33.00 to file the complaint. If you wish to have the Court serve the Defendant via certified mail, there is an additional fee of $8.00. The Defendant’s mailing address must be provided if the plaintiff wishes to have the Court serve the complaint.
  • The Defendant has 20 calendar days from the date they are served (30 days if they are out of State) to file an answer. There is a fee of $23.00 to file an answer. The Defendant must also serve the Plaintiff with a copy of their answer. If the Defendant files an answer, a hearing date will be scheduled and both parties will be notified in writing. At the hearing, both the Plaintiff and Defendant will be given the opportunity to present their case.
  • If the Defendant does not file an answer, the Plaintiff may file an Affidavit of Default with the Court and serve the Defendant with a copy. The Defendant has 10 days to respond. If the Defendant responds, a hearing will be set.

If the Defendant does not respond, the Plaintiff may file a Motion for Entry of Judgment without Hearing and a Statement of Costs with the Court. A judgment may be entered by the Court and this does not require the Plaintiff’s appearance at a hearing.

  • Defendant will be advised to contact the Plaintiff directly regarding any settlement discussions. If an agreement is reached prior to the hearing date, the Plaintiff should notify the Court in writing that the case dismissed.

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