AN ACTION IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT NOT MAY BE BROUGHT BY:
TRIAL BY JUDGE OR JURY:
ABSTRACT OF JUDGEMENT
WRIT OF EXECUTION:
SUIT ON A CORPORATION:
SUIT ON A COMPANY:
Generally, suit should be filed in the county and precinct where one or more of the defendants reside. However, there are many exceptions to this Rule. For further information see “VENUE IN JUSTICE COURT SUITS.”
DIRECT A LETTER, CERTIFIED MAIL – RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED, to the defendant, giving notice of the suit. State the amount of money to sued for and if the money is not received within ten (10) days from the date of the receipt of the letter, suit may be filed.
Jurisdiction (what the Court may render JUDGEMENT for) in Small Claims Court is for civil matters in which the amount of controversy is not more than $10,000.00 A judgement in Small Claims Court SHALL be for MONEY ONLY, (not for the return of personal property, etc.)
1. An assignee of the claim or other person seeking to bring an action on an assigned claim;
2. a person primarily engaged in the business of lending money at interest; or
3. a collection agency or agent.
The responsibility for filling out your petition rests with you, the plaintiff. Court Clerks will assist you if you have PROCEDURAL questions. Please contact this court concerning filing fee and service fee.
A citation is sent to the Constable for service on the defendant in Hale County. Out of county service is sent to the Sheriff or Constable, depending on the information you provide the Court.
The defendant in your suit is commanded to answer to the Court, in writing, on the Monday following the expiration of ten (10) days for the date the citation was served upon him.
As an individual, you must represent yourself in a Small Claims Suit. If as plaintiff, you are in the business of loaning money, either primarily (banks, credit union, savings and loans) or secondarily(credit cards or interest charge accounts), you are not allowed to file in Small Claims Court; however, an attorney representing any of the above may file suits on behalf of the above in JUSTICE COURT. Action in Small Claims court may not be brought by an assignee of the claim or other persons seeking to bring action on assigned claim; or a collection agency.
If the defendant in your suit fails to file a written answer with the Court, only you, as plaintiff, will be notified by the Court for an appearance on the DEFAULT DOCKET. You will be asked to briefly state the facts of your case and present any written documents you may have to support your case.
If the defendant in your suit files a written answer, the court date should be approximately six to seven weeks after service. (See additional information below for alternate service that could delay serving the citation). Notice will be mailed to you (the plaintiff) and to the defendant stating the date and time to appear in Court. Bring all information you need to support your claim. If you have any witnesses, you should bring them. If you have witnesses to your suit who will not come to court voluntarily, you may ask the Court to subpoena those individuals prior to trial. The fee in Hale County for filing and service of a subpoena is fifty-five (55.00) per subpoena. Allow at least a week for service of the subpoena. ALL MOTIONS FOR CONTINUANCE (RESETTING YOUR COURT DATE) MUST BE IN WRITING AND RECEIVED NO LATER THAN THREE (3) WORKING DAYS (WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS EXCLUDED) PRIOR TO YOUR COURT DATE.
THIS COURT DOES NOT COLLECT THE JUDGEMENT FOR YOU NOR CAN WE FORCE THE DEFENDANT TO PAY THE JUDGEMENT.
If you receive a judgement against the defendant, and if the defendant does not make a motion for new trial within five (5) days or appeal the case within then (10) days after the court date, your remedies to collect your money are as follows:
You may obtain an Abstract of Judgement on the eleventh (11th) day after judgement.The fee for obtaining an Abstract ofJudgement is (5.00). You should then take the Abstract to the County Clerk’s office in the Hale County Courthouse in order to file the judgement in Hale County. The purpose of filing an Abstract of Judgement is to put a lien against any REAL PROPERTY in the defendant’s name. If the defendant sells any real property within ten (10) years from the date of judgement, the amount ofjudgement must be paid plus interest.
If you are granted a judgement against the defendant AND if the defendant does not appeal within ten (10) days after the court date, you may obtain and file a Writ of Execution any time after the 30th day from the date of judgement. A Writ of Execution allows a Sheriff or Constable in the
State of Texas to try and seize certain non exempt property from the defendant. If property is seized, an auction is held and the proceeds for the sale satisfy the judgement. The cost for filing a Writ of Execution is one hundred-thirty dollars $130.00 $5.00 for filing and $125.00 for 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 judgement.
SHOULD THE DEFENDANT PAY ANY PORTTION OF THE AMOUNT OWED AFTER YOU HAVE RECEIVED A JUDGEMENT, IT IS NECESSARY FOR YOU TO NOTIFY THE COURT OF THE CREDIT OR NOTIFY THE COURT THAT THE JUDGEMENT HAS BEEN SATISFIED IN FULL IF THE DEFENDANT PAYS THE ENTIRE JUDGEMENT AMOUNT. IF YOUR ADDRESS CHANGES WITHIN THE TEN (10) YEAR PERIOD FOLLOWING THE JUDGEMENT, YOU SHOULD NOTIFY THE COURT OF YOUR NEW ADDRESS.
The defendant in a Small Claims Suit must be served personally by the Constable or Sheriff of the County. Sometimes, service is avoided by the defendant; therefore, an alternate method of service is necessary. This method is referred to as “alternate service.” The Constable or Sheriff may request this alternate service which allows him to serve anyone over the age of sixteen (16) at the defendant’s usual place of abode, business, or in a method the Judge believes will be reasonably effective to give the defendant notice of the suit. We will request that you come in and sign the request for alternate service. If your request is approved, the Judge will sign an order, and the citation will be returned to the Constable or Sheriff for service as mentioned above.
It is important that you understand that for any potential judgement you may receive to be valid, it is necessary for you to sue the defendant in the proper legal capacity. They are as follows:
If the party you want to sue is a corporation, you must find the name of an officer of the corporation before you begin the suit. The Secretary of State (1-512-463-5555) or the state Comptroller’s office (1-800-2522-2555) will give you the information. Ask for the name and address of the REGISTERED AGENT, PRESIDENT OR VICE-PRESIDENT of the corporation. When you file your suit, you will be filing against the corporation and serving the citation on one of the above mentioned officers of the corporation. It is necessary to know the individual’s name who is able to accept service on behalf of the corporation. EXAMPLE- GREENHOUSE INC., SERVE JOHN DOE. It is also possible for an incorporated entity to have an assumed name, i.e; GREENHOUSE, INC. DBA GREENHOUSE SUPPLIES. Follow other instructions for the remainder of the suit.
If the party you want to sue is an individual doing business under an assumed name (sole proprietor of the business) or a partnership, you must check with the County Clerk’s office in the county of the business to determine who the owner or owners are. Direct your letter (notice of suit) to the owner (s) of the business – EXAMPLE: JOHN SMITH DBA GREENHOUSE SUPPLIES.
Where an individual is personally responsible to you for damages he may have caused you.
IF YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL PROCEDURAL QUESTIONS, PLEASE CONTACT THIS COURT AT (806) 291-5202.
LEGAL QUESTIONS WILL NOT BE ANSWERED BY THIS OFFICE.
SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO:
JUDGE KAREN DAVIS
P.O. BOX 217
ABERNATHY, TEXAS 79311