How can I best prepare for court?
Here’s an easy checklist to follow:
1. Plan what you are going to say.
You will have to explain to the judge why you sued and what you want him or her to order. Decide what your main points are and take proof. Try to think of what the other person might say and how you will answer.
2. Prepare the proof to take to court.
Print off your Squabble info and evidence that supports your story and take 2 more copies of everything. This is called “evidence.” Evidence can be:
- estimates (take at least 2)
- diagrams that show how an accident happened
- police reports
If you need papers that someone else has, fill out a Small Claims Subpoena for Personal Appearance and Production of Documents at Trial or Hearing and Declaration county form and request these documents.
3. Take copies of all your court papers and your Proof of Service.
These are documents you have received via email from Squabble and via snail mail from the court.
4. Take people to support your story (witnesses).
Take witnesses who saw what happened or who are experts on that subject. For example, a neighbor who saw the accident or a mechanic who looked at your car.
Don’t bring people unless you know they will support you. Witnesses who are not friends or relatives may be more effective in proving your case. But sometimes the only witnesses are your friends and relatives. They should testify and present themselves in a professional manner and be objective and not emotional. If you need a witness to go to your hearing that cannot or will not go voluntarily, fill out a Small Claims Subpoena county form to order them to go.
5. If you do not speak English well, take an interpreter to help you.
Ask your court clerk at least 1 week before your hearing to see if the court can provide an interpreter for you. In some courts, they can provide interpreters for free if you qualify for a fee waiver. If not, you have to take your own interpreter. Do not ask a child or a witness to interpret for you. Please note: you have the right to get your hearing delayed so you can get an interpreter.
6. If you are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or have another disability request an accommodation.
Ask your court’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator or court clerk (check your county’s website for specific info) at least 1 week before your hearing.