FILING A SMALL CLAIMS SUIT PROCEDURE
(downloadable files below)
Small Claims Cases:
A small claims case is a lawsuit brought for the recovery of money damages, civil penalties, personal property, or other relief allowed by law. The claim can be for no more than $10,000.00, excluding statutory interest and court costs but including attorney fees, if any. Small claims cases are governed by Rules 500-507 of Part V of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
Debt Claim Cases:
A debt claim case is a lawsuit brought to recover a debt by an assignee of a claim, a debt collector or collection agency, a financial institution, or a person or entity primarily engaged in the business of lending money at interest. The claim can be for more than $10,000, excluding statutory interest and court costs but including attorney fees, if any. Debt claim cases in justice court are governed by Rules 500-507 and 508 Part V of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
General Rule. Generally, a defendant in a small claims case or a debt claim case is entitled to be sued in one of the following venues:
The county and precinct where the defendant resides;
The county and precinct where the incident, or the majority of incidents, that gave rise to the claim occurred
The county and precinct where the contract or agreement, if any, that gave rise to the claim was to be performed; or
The county and precinct where the property is located, in a suit to recover personal property.
The responsibility for filling out your petition and civil case information sheet rests with you. Court clerks will assist you if you have procedural questions. The filing fee is forty one ($41.00) and the service fee is seventy ($70.00) per defendant to be served in Hale County, for a total of one hundred eleven ($111.00). If the defendant(s) resides outside of Hale County, contact the court for service fees of other counties.
The citation is sent to the Hale County Constable for service. Out of County service is sent to the Sheriff or Constable of the county in which the defendant(s) reside or any manner authorized for service of citation in district, county or justice court. You as Plaintiff are responsible for providing a correct address for service.
Pretrial Discovery. Pretrial discovery is limited to that which the judge considers reasonable and necessary. Any request for pretrial discovery must be presented to the court for approval by written motion. The motion must be served on the responding party. The discovery request must not be served on the responding party unless the judge issues a signed order approving the request. Failure to comply with a discovery order can result in sanctions.
You as an individual may represent yourself in Justice Court or you may have an attorney represent you. The Rules of Evidence do not apply in Justice Court.
The defendant in the suit is commanded to answer the Court, in writing, on the Monday following the expiration of fourteen (14) days from the date the citation is served upon him.
TRIAL BY JUDGE OR JURY:
If the defendant in your suit files a written answer, the court will set a trial date approximately six to eight weeks after service. Notice will be mailed to the Plaintiff and Defendant stating the date and time to appear.
If the defendant in your suit fails to file a written answer, a plaintiff who seeks a default judgment against a defendant must request a hearing, orally or in writing. This purpose of this hearing is for you to prove up your damages in the suit.
Any party is entitled to a trial by jury. A written demand for a jury must be filed no later than 14 days before the case is set for trial. A party demanding a jury must pay a fee of $22.00. If the demand is not timely, the right to a jury trial is waived.
THIS COURT DOES NOT COLLECT THE JUDGMENT FOR YOU.
If you receive a judgment and the defendant does not make a motion for a new trial within 14 days or appeal the case within 21 days after the judgment is signed, the following remedies are available:
The fee is $5.00 for the J.P. Court to prepare. You should then record the Abstract of Judgment in the County where the defendant resides.
If you are granted a judgment against the defendant AND if the defendant does not appeal within 21 days, you may request a Writ of Execution any time after the 30th day after the judgment is signed. A Writ of Execution allows a Sheriff or Constable in the State of Texas to seize nonexempt property from the defendant in order to satisfy the judgment.
The cost of filing a Writ of Execution in $135.00 for filing and service in Hale County.
You may have other remedies available, but they are more complicated and are not covered here. Please consult an attorney for any other remedies you may have to collect your judgment.
If your address changes within a 10 year period following the judgment, it is your responsibility to notify the court of your new address.
IF YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL PROCEDURAL QUESTIONS, PLEASE CONTACT THIS COURT AT (806) 757-2476.
LEGAL QUESTIONS WILL NOT BE ANSWERED BY THIS OFFICE
CORRESPONDENCE SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO:
JUDGE KAREN DAVIS
P.O. BOX 217
ABERNATHY, TEXAS 79311