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New: eFiling is currently available for small claims cases in Bangor District Court only. What is small claims court? Parties involved in small claims cases often represent themselves but they may also hire an attorney. Small claims court is a session of the District Court.
Anyone can bring a case or be a defendant in small claims court with a few exceptions. For example, you cannot sue a city or town in small claims court. Read A Guide to Small Claims Cases for a complete explanation of the court process, definition of key terms, and additional resources.
A printed copy of the guide and blank court forms are available at any District Court clerk's office. See Maine eCourts for more information on eFiling.
Read the guide. If you received notice that a small claims case has been filed against you, do not ignore the case. Even though you are not required to submit a written response, you should be prepared to respond by going to the hearing. If you want to raise a defense or contest the case, you must go to court and present your side at the hearing. If you do not show up, you will likely lose the case by default. As a defendant in a small claims case, there are several things you can do to respond :.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the court then holds a hearing. Learn more about mediation. In the hearing, the plaintiff goes first. The plaintiff has to show by testimony and other evidence that the defendant is liable for the money being sued for.
The defendant may also testify and offer other evidence. Both sides may call witnesses. All testimony is given under oath, which means that the person testifying promises to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, to the best of his or her recollection and belief.
The judge hears the case without a jury and decides whether the evidence offered entitles the plaintiff or the defendant to win. After the hearing is over, the judge announces the decision, or, sometimes, takes the case "under advisement. The judge's decision is called a "judgment. If the plaintiff wins and the defendant does not pay the small claims judgment voluntarily, the plaintiff will need to take additional steps to collect.
Either side can file a Notice of Appeal within 30 days of losing a small claims case. A plaintiff can only appeal on a question of law, which means that the judge made an error in applying the correct legal principle to the case. A defendant can appeal on a question of law or a question of fact. For more information on filing or responding to a small claims case, see A Guide to Small Claims Cases.
Can represent yourself or hire a lawyer. Corporation or other legal entity can be represented by an employee or other principal even if not a lawyer. Must hire a lawyer if a corporation or other legal entity. Pre-trial discovery is available. Discovery must be conducted according to court rules and procedures. Depending upon the type of case and in which court filed, mediation or another form of Alternative Dispute Resolution may be required or available.
If the plaintiff loses, the plaintiff can appeal to the Superior Court on questions of law only.Strictly formal auburn maine
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