Law Office Of Paul DePetris
paul@newjerseylemon.com

How To Try A New Jersey Small Claims Trial FAQs

INTRODUCTION
Read below to learn more about this topic.  Or, to receive a no cost phone consultation, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send him an email.  Warning – this article does not necessarily include every New Jersey court rule, code or law that may apply to your New Jersey case!  The Law Office of Paul DePetris does not guarantee that the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms on this website are the latest versions, that they lack typographical errors or that they have not changed, repealed or superseded by other laws.  Before taking any action, read all applicable federal and state source law and case law and consult with an experienced New Jersey Law Division lawyer.  Court addresses, hours of operation and directions may change so check with the court in advance of mailing documents to court or going there!  Some of the webpages on this site don’t apply to all types of New Jersey cases, since there are different rules for different case types!


HOW TO TRY A NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS CASE FAQS


WHAT IS THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS SECTION, SPECIAL CIVIL PART COURT?
To understand how to try a New Jersey Small Claims case, you must understand what the small claims section is.  Small claims lawsuits are handled by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Small Claims Section.   A Small claims lawsuit is a New Jersey civil court lawsuit in which the money sought to be recovered does not exceed $3,000 (or $5,000 if the Small claims lawsuit involves the return of a rental security deposit).   Lawsuits for higher amounts of money must be filed with other New Jersey Courts.   In Small claims lawsuits for damages up to $15,000, the Plaintiff should file in the regular Special Civil Part and in Small claims lawsuits involving damages greater than $15,000, the Plaintiff should file in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Civil Part.  There are also exceptions to these rules – not all types of Small claims lawsuits are able to be filed in the New Jersey Small Claims Court.   For example, if you have a claim involving a family law situation, you may have to file in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part.  Also, if you are a New Jersey landlord who seeks to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, you may have to file your Small claims lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Landlord Tenant Section.    If you file your Small claims lawsuit in the New Jersey Small Claims Court, you shall very likely be prevented from recovering more money than $3,000 (or $5,000 if the Small claims lawsuit involves the return of a rental security deposit).    Because the procedures for handling New Jersey Small claims lawsuits in the New Jersey Small Claims Court are relatively easier than in New Jersey Courts deciding Small claims lawsuits involving larger sums of money, most the Small claims lawsuits filed in the New Jersey Small Claims Court move more rapidly through the New Jersey court system than New Jersey lawsuits filed for larger sums of money.


WHAT TYPES OF SMALL CLAIMS LAWSUITS ARE USUALLY TRIED IN THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT?
To understand how to try a New Jersey Small Claims case, you should understand the types of lawsuits filed in small claims court.  The following are examples of some types of lawsuits filed in small claims court:
Contract disputes
Property damage disputes, such as car accidents where only property is damaged (and persons do not sustain serious personal injuries)
Bill collection disputes
Security deposit disputes
Disputes between consumers and merchants involving unsatisfactory goods or services, such as home repair disputes or automotive repair disputes


WHAT TYPES OF SMALL CLAIMS LAWSUITS CANNOT BE FILED IN THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT?
To understand how to try a New Jersey Small Claims case, you must understand the types of lawsuits cannot be filed in small claims court.  The following are examples of some types of lawsuits that cannot be filed in small claims court:
lawsuits where the Plaintiff seeks to recover sums that exceed the damages recoverable in the New Jersey Small Claims Court – $3,000 (or $5,000 if the lawsuit involves the return of a rental security deposit).   
lawsuits involving a family law situation, such as those involving divorce, child support, spousal support or promises between boyfriends and girlfriends or fiancées for the payment of sums of money associated with their relationships.
Professional Liability/Malpractice Small claims lawsuits – claims brought against doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers and similar licensed professionals for conduct involving violations of their professional responsibilities/duties
Small claims lawsuits involving the probate of a will or other certain issues involving the administration of an estate or certain claims brought against it.
Small claims lawsuits where a New Jersey landlord who seeks to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent (there is a Court called the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Landlord Tenant Section that handles most such disputes).  


WHAT IS A CASE DOCKET NUMBER?
To understand how to try a New Jersey Small Claims case, you must understand what a docket number is.   Each case is assigned an identification number when the complaint is filed with the court.   This number is used on all documents filed with the court and is the number that identifies your case for the trial.   New Jersey Small Claims cases are identified by the number that the New Jersey Small Claims Court assigns to the complaint – a number beginning in “SC”.  “SC” stands for New Jersey Small Claims Court.  Special Civil complaints are identified by the number that the court assigns to the complaint – a number beginning in “DC”.   “DC” stands for “New Jersey District Court” – the old name for Special Civil Part Court.  


WHAT RULES APPLY TO THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT TRIAL?
To understand how to handle a New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you must understand what rules apply to the court.  The general rules of practice and procedure in the Special Civil Part, including the provisions of R. 1:40-6, shall apply to the Small Claims Section except that any authorized officer or employee may prosecute and defend on behalf of a party which is a business entity, whether formally incorporated or not, claims originating with and not held by transfer or assignment to that business entity, provided that such officer or employee is neither a suspended or disbarred attorney nor one who has resigned. This exception shall apply to every action cognizable in the Small Claims Section whether or not the complaint has been filed in the Small Claims Court. Notice in the Small Claims Section shall be by summons as provided by R. 6:2-1, and actions in Small Claims Court shall be disposed of on the return day unless adjourned by the Small Claims Court. Upon the filing of your Small Claims counterclaim for a sum in excess of the monetary limit of the Small Claims Section, the action shall be transferred to the Special Civil Part proper upon payment by the Small Claims defendant of the required fees.


WHY DO YOU NEED TO WIN THE TRIAL THE FIRST TIME?
Never believe that if you lose the first time, you will have a good chance of getting another chance to win your case.   If you lose your trial, it shall very likely be too expensive and too difficult to reverse the loss you suffered.  Motions for a new trial are infrequently granted.   Appeals require you to pay a filing fee of $200 with the Notice of Appeal and deposit $300 with the Clerk of the Appellate Division within 30 days of the Notice of Appeal.   The deposit may be used to pay settlement or court costs if you lose the appeal.  Most appeals are unsuccessful and even attorneys find appeals very challenging.  Nonattorneys usually have their appeal papers rejected by the appeals court because the requirement for appeal paperwork are very strict and difficult to master.    Put serious effort into winning the case at trial or don’t bother even trying the case!


WHAT IS A NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS SUMMONS?  
To know how to try a New Jersey Small Claims case, you must understand what a New Jersey Small Claims Summons is.  Many people mistakenly believe that a New Jersey Small Claims Summons is a lawsuit.   However, a New Jersey Small Claims Summons is not a lawsuit at all.  Instead, a New Jersey Small Claims Summons is a court document that “summons” you to appear in court for trial.   The plaintiff and the defendant must appear at the proper courthouse at the time and on the date stated on the New Jersey Small Claims summons, unless the court tells you something different. When you want to file a complaint in small claims, you must, in addition to preparing the complaint, prepare the New Jersey Small Claims Summons.


WHAT ARE THE HOURS OF THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT?
To understand how to handle a New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you need to know the court’s hours.  The court is normally open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


WHERE ARE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS TRIALS HELD?
To understand how to try a New Jersey Small Claims case, it is first necessary to understand where New Jersey Small Claims trials are held and are heard by the Special Civil Part, Small Claims section.   New Jersey small claims court trials are held at the county courthouse in which the case is being handled.  Here are the addresses of the Superior Court Special Civil Part Courthouses: 


Atlantic County Special Civil Part 
Atlantic County Civil Courthouse 
1201 Bacharach Blvd. 
Atlantic City, NJ 08401 
(609)-594-3370 


Bergen County 
Special Civil Part 
Bergen County Justice Center 
Room 427, 10 Main Street Hackensack, NJ 07601 
(201 )-527-2730 


Burlington County 
Special Civil Part 
49 Rancocas Rd. 
Mount Holly, NJ 08060 
(609)-518-2865 


Camden County 
Hall of Justice 
101 S. 5th Street, Suite 150 Camden, NJ 08 103-4001 
(856)-379-2202 


Cape May County 
Special Civil Part 
9 N. Main Street 
Cape May Courthouse, NJ 08210 (609)-463-6502 


Cumberland County Special Civil Part 
60 West Broad Street Bridgeton, NJ 08302 (856)-453-4350 


Essex County 
Civil Customer Service 
Hall of Records 
Room 201 
465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
Newark, NJ 07102 
(973)-693-5529 


Gloucester County 
Gloucester County Courthouse Attn: Civil Case Management Office 
1 N. Broad St. 
Woodbury NJ 08096 
(856)-853-3392 


Hudson County 
Special Civil Case Management Office 
711 Administration Bldg. 
595 Newark Avenue 
Jersey City, NJ 07306 
(201 )-795-6680 


Hunterdon County 
Hunterdon County Justice Center 65 Park Avenue 
P.O. Box 1069 Flemington, NJ 08822 
(908)-237-5820 


Mercer County 
Mercer County Central Finance Office 
175 S. Broad St. 1st Floor 
P.O. Box 8068 
Trenton, NJ 08650 
(609)-5 71-4490 


Middlesex County 
Middlesex Vicinage 
Special Civil Part 
3rd Floor - Tower 
P.O. Box 1146 
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-1146 (732)-5 19-3679 
Monmouth County 
Central Fee Office 
P.O. Box 1260 
Freehold, NJ 07728-1260 
(732)-677-4223 


Morris County 
Morris County Courthouse Special Civil Part Washington and Court Sts. 
P.O. Box 910 
Morristown, NJ 07963-0910 
(973)-656-4 125 


Ocean County 
Ocean County Superior Court Civil Intake 
118 Washington St., Room 121 P.O.Box 2191 
Toms River NJ 08754-2191 
(732)-929-2016 


Passaic County New Courthouse 
77 Hamilton Street, First Floor Paterson, NJ 07505 
(973)-247-8239 


Salem County 
Salem County Courthouse Attn: Civil Case Management Office 
92 Market St. 
Salem, NJ 08079 
(856)-935-7510 x8214 
Somerset County 
Somerset County Civil Division 40 North Bridge Street, 1st. Fl. P.O. Box 3000 
Somerville, NJ 08876 
(908)-23 1-7054 


Sussex County Special Civil Part 
Sussex County Judicial Center 43-47 High St. 
Newton, NJ 07860 
(973)-5 79-0918 
Union County 
Special Civil Part 
Old Annex, 3rd Floor 2 Broad Street 
Elizabeth, NJ 07207 
(908)-659-4900 


Warren County 
Warren County Civil Division Courthouse 
413 Second St. 
P.O. Box 900 
Belvidere, NJ 07823-1500 
(908)-475-6144


WHAT IF I AM SUED IN THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT BUT SOMEONE OWES ME MONEY BECAUSE OF THE SITUATION THAT IS THE SUBJECT OF THE LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST ME?
To understand how to handle a New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you need to understand about New Jersey Small Claims counterclaims and New Jersey Small Claims third party complaints.   If you are the Defendant or Plaintiff or someone that isn’t named in the Complaint owes you money or property based on the same set of facts as those in dispute in the Complaint or facts related to the dispute, you may be able to file a the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint to recover the money or property (discussed below).  If there are valid facts and legal reasons to support it, the Defendant can file their own lawsuit against a plaintiff, called a “the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim If you are sued and someone who is not named in the lawsuit is partially or totally responsible for the Plaintiff’s damages or for damages you suffered and there are valid facts and legal reasons to support it, the Defendant can file their own Small claims complaint, called a “third party complaint”.  By doing so, the Defendant names Parties not originally named to the Complaint as additional Parties to the Case.  New Jersey Small Claims the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaims and New Jersey Small Claims third party complaints must be prepared in writing and filed with the appropriate court where the original Small claims complaint is being heard normally require extra fees above the cost of filing an answer to the original Small claims complaint.  In the Case of the New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint, once properly filed, the New Jersey Small Claims Court normally serves it on the Plaintiff.  New Jersey Small Claims trial forms may be available at the appropriate office of the New Jersey Small Claims Court and via the worldwide web.  However, neither New Jersey Small Claims trial forms, websites nor advice from New Jersey Small Claims Court personnel are good substitutes for a an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial attorney’s legal services.  Each Case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges.  It is very common for people to file inadequate or incorrect Small Claims Court complaints or the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaims that result in the Complaints or New Jersey Small Claims counterclaims being rejected by the New Jersey Small Claims Court or being dismissed by the New Jersey Small Claims Court after filing and before or after trial because of procedural deficiencies.  It is important to be truthful and not to make misstatements of facts when filing the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaims and third party complaints.   It is extremely important that you prepare your New Jersey Small Claims the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint carefully and make sure that you include in the documents a detailed list of all reasons why you may have a right to win your Case, since failure to do so could cause you to lose your Case.  Accordingly, when you are sued and when you want to file a the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint, you should seriously consider hiring the New Jersey Small Claims attorney to prepare your response to the Complaint or the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim, to prepare written requests for information to the Party that sued you (discussed further below) and if you can afford it, to have the New Jersey Small Claims attorney represent you in New Jersey Small Claims court.  After your New Jersey Small Claims the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint is prepared, you must file it by either visiting the New Jersey Superior Courthouse or appropriate Court Finance Office in the county where the Complaint was filed – all of which are located in the county seat of the appropriate county -- or by sending the necessary paperwork to the appropriate county office of the Superior Court of New Jersey.  When filing a the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint in the New Jersey Small Claims Court, be sure to include the following information: 
your full name, address, and telephone number. 
the correct names and addresses of all people named as defendants in the Complaint. 
properly identify whether each defendant is an individual, a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation. 
the amount of money for which you are suing. 
a list of factual reasons why you seek damages from each plaintiff or Third party defendant
a list of all legal reasons why you may have a right to win your Case. 
whether at the present time there is any other case involving both you and the other parties named to the lawsuit and, if so, the name of the Court in which any other such case is being heard. 
your signature on the the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint. 
You must pay a fee to file the document.  If you are owed more than the limit for claims filed in the New Jersey Small Claims Court and you want to recover all the money you believe you are due, you shall have to get instructions on how to have the Case removed from that section to the regular New Jersey Special Civil Part (if the sum that you claim does not exceed $15,000) or the Law Division, Civil Part (if the sum you claim is greater than $15,000).


WHAT IF I FILED THE LAWSUIT AND DEFENDANT FILED A THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COUNTERCLAIM AGAINST ME?
To understand how to handle a New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you must understand how to respond to a New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim.  If there are valid facts and legal reasons to support it, the Defendant can file their own lawsuit against a plaintiff, called a New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim.   If you are named to a the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim, you must be prepared to defend yourself in New Jersey Small Claims court by appearing when the New Jersey Small Claims trial is scheduled in your Case.  Failure to do so will normally result in your being defaulted and exposes you to the risk of having a money judgment entered against you and thereafter, possibly losing money or property.  It is possible for plaintiffs to win on their complaint only to lose on the Defendant’s the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim.  If you are not represented by an attorney in the Case, you are called a “pro se litigant”.  Most cases filed New Jersey Small Claims Court that go to trials are nonjury trials, meaning that only a judge hears the Case.    If you are the Defendant in the Case, you could try to demand a jury trial by paying an additional filing fee and filing a written demand for a trial by jury with the court clerk at the principal location of the New Jersey Small Claims Court.  However, the demand must be filed with the court clerk served upon opposing parties at least five days before the return day stated on the New Jersey Small Claims summons, whereupon the Court Clerk shall transfer the action from the New Jersey Small Claims Court to the regular New Jersey Special Civil Part. Jury trials are much more complex than nonjury trials and usually require much more preparation, including extensive paperwork.  However, a jury trial demand may result in the facts of your Case being decided by the New Jersey Small Claims jury of ordinary people rather than by a single judge.  Even where the Plaintiff or Defendant requests a jury trial, the legal issues in the New Jersey Small Claims trials are normally decided by the Judge hearing the Case.


IF I AM SUED IN THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT DO I HAVE TO APPEAR AT TRIAL?
If you are sued in the New Jersey Small Claims Court, you shall be named to the Complaint or the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim and must be prepared to defend yourself in New Jersey Small Claims court by appearing when the New Jersey Small Claims trial is scheduled in your Case.  Failure to do so will normally result in your being defaulted and exposes you to the risk of having a money judgment entered against you and thereafter, possibly losing money or property.  If you are not represented by an attorney in the Case, you are called a “pro se litigant”.  Most cases filed in the New Jersey Small Claims Court that go to trials are nonjury trials, meaning that only a judge hears the Case.  The Defendant may demand a jury trial by paying an additional filing fee and filing a written demand for a trial by jury with the court clerk at the principal location of the New Jersey Small Claims Court.  However, the demand must be filed with the court clerk served upon opposing parties at least five days before the return day stated on the New Jersey Small Claims summons, whereupon the Court Clerk shall transfer the action from the New Jersey Small Claims Court to the regular New Jersey Special Civil Part.  Jury trials are much more complex than nonjury trials and usually require much more preparation, including extensive paperwork.  However, a jury trial demand may result in the facts of your Case being decided by the New Jersey Small Claims jury of ordinary people rather than by a single judge.  Even where the Plaintiff or Defendant requests a jury trial, the legal issues in the New Jersey Small Claims trials are normally decided by the Judge hearing the Case. 


IF I AM A PLAINTIFF OR DEFENDANT NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT, WILL THE OTHER SIDE HAVE THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS ATTORNEY?
To understand how to handle a New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you need to know about legal representation.  If you are not represented by the New Jersey Small Claims attorney in the Case, you are called a “pro se litigant”.  While people can and often do represent themselves New Jersey Small Claims Court, their opponent may be represented by a New Jersey Small Claims attorney, which often places the unrepresented party at a major disadvantage.  If possible, hire the New Jersey Small Claims attorney to at least prepare any necessary Small Claims paperwork or other New Jersey court paperwork and if you can afford it, to also appear and represent you in New Jersey Small Claims court at any motions or trials.   The proper preparation of New Jersey Small Claims papers and preparation of the Case for trial often requires knowledge of legal issues that experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial lawyers have.  Court rules and evidence rules are often complex and accordingly, are often difficult to follow.  Trials can be very complex and time consuming – sometimes they take all day or more than one day to complete.  Nonattorneys are not able to give you legal advice about Disputes that are heard by New Jersey courts, regardless of whether the people work for a court or work for the New Jersey Small Claims attorney.  


WHAT HAPPENS AT THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT TRIAL?
To understand how to handle a New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you must understand what happens at the New Jersey Small Claims trial.  On the day that your Case goes to trial you must appear at court.  Usually, many cases are heard on the day that your Case is called for trial and it is not uncommon for many people to wait in a single courtroom for their case to be called.  You must be on time to avoid losing your Case!  If a plaintiff fails to appear when their case is called, the Court is likely to dismiss the Complaint.  If the Defendant fails to appear when the Case is called, the New Jersey Small Claims Court shall likely enter a default.  If the Default is entered, you shall have to prepare and file paperwork with the Court asking the New Jersey Small Claims Court to enter a default judgment in your favor.  If no default is entered, you must be prepared to present your Case or defense.  It is not uncommon for judges to get very frustrated by an unrepresented party’s lack of preparation or ignorance of the facts or law of the Case.  A court has the power to punish unprepared parties, such as by throwing their case out of court or limiting what they can present at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial.  You must bring all documents, photographs, videos and other items with you to the New Jersey Small Claims trial that are necessary to prove your Case (preferably originals).  Even if you bring such documents and items to court, the New Jersey Small Claims Court may refuse to allow you to use them at your trial.  New Jersey has published cases, laws, regulations, court rules and rules of evidence that are very tricky and that can be used to prevent you from doing much of what you want to do at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial.  Accordingly, before trial, you must consult all of these rules to determine how you intend to get your documents and items into evidence or how to properly use them at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial.  Hearsay rules of evidence are particularly troublesome and you should study them carefully before trial.  For example, it is very common for courts to refuse to allow the Plaintiff or Defendant to use or refer to documents or items that the person themselves never prepared.  Often parties stumble into Court with a video, photograph, bill or affidavit or other form of written statement, thinking they are going to use it as proof that they lost money or that they are not responsible for someone else’s damages, only to have a judge tell the parties that it is not going to even consider such items or documents.  Without the proper preparation, items and documents may never be considered by the New Jersey Small Claims Court.  Also, if there are any legal issues to be dealt with at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you must be prepared to argue them, which may require you to refer to court rules, evidence rules, laws, regulations or published cases.  If you have any witnesses that you need to testify for you at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, then in advance of the New Jersey Small Claims trial and as required by court rules, laws and published cases, you must prepare a written subpoena (or subpoenas if the Case is adjourned).   Such a New Jersey Small Claims trial subpoena must normally be personally served by a process server rather than by mail.  If you want to force one of the parties to the Case to testify as part of your Case, since they might not show up at the New Jersey Small Claims trial (it is possible that only their attorney will show up), you should serve them with a notice in lieu of subpoena.  If you think that you could have problems getting someone to show up to provide testimony at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you should have a process server serve them with a New Jersey Small Claims trial subpoena or  if they are the Plaintiff or Defendant to the dispute, a notice in lieu of subpoena.  Without witnesses to testify at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial (especially experts, discussed above), you may lose your Case.  Trials can be very complex and time consuming – sometimes they take all day or more than one day to complete.  Also, it is very common for trials to get adjourned because someone is not ready to present their case for a valid reason (but you can never expect that you shall automatically get an adjournment and you must always be fully ready to try your Case on the date that the New Jersey Small Claims trial is scheduled since courts often refuse adjournment requests and dismiss cases if parties are not prepared to proceed with their case or defense on the New Jersey Small Claims trial date).  It is best to have your questions for any witnesses prepared in advance.  At the end of the New Jersey Small Claims trial, the New Jersey Small Claims Court normally enters the Judgment for or against you.  The New Jersey Small Claims Court may also withhold or “reserve” judgment for a later date, which normally results in the court taking time to write up its reasons for its decision and mailing it to the parties’ last known addresses (or to their New Jersey Small Claims lawyers, if they are represented).  


PREPARE FOR TRIAL IMMEDIATELY!
To understand how to try a New Jersey Small Claims case, you must understand how to prepare for trial.  New Jersey Small Claims trials usually occur fairly rapidly after a Small claims complaint is served and filed.  Don’t wait until the day or week before trial to prepare for your New Jersey Small Claims trial!    Far in advance of your trial, documents have to be requested collected, witnesses subpoenaed.   It is not uncommon for a person to show up at a New Jersey Small Claims trial asking for an adjournment because they are not ready to try their Case, with the Judge refusing to grant the request!   Plaintiffs and Defendants often appear at a trial unprepared only to learn the hard way that, very often, the key to winning a New Jersey Small Claims trial is careful preparation.


DON’T EXPECT THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT TO BE FAMILIAR WITH THE DETAILS OF YOUR CASE
To understand how to handle a New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you must understand that court isn’t going to roll out the red carpet for you and your case.  That is, your case is usually simply one of many cases the court must deal with.  New Jersey Small Claims part is one of the busiest of all of the sections of the Superior Court of New Jersey.  Don’t ever expect New Jersey Small Claims court personnel to be familiar with the details of your Case.  Usually, most New Jersey Small Claims court personnel never read your complaints, answers and motions.   When dealing with New Jersey Small Claims court personnel, be prepared to explain those details of your Case that are necessary for them to understand your Case.


IF YOU EXPECT TO CALL WITNESSES AT YOUR NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS TRIAL, MAKE SURE TO ISSUE SUBPOENAS FOR THEIR APPEARANCE
To understand how to try a New Jersey Small Claims case, it is first necessary to understand something about subpoenas.  To make certain that a witness will appear to give testimony in your New Jersey Small Claims trial, prepare proper Subpoenas and have them properly served on the witness well in advance of your New Jersey Small Claims trial.  Otherwise the witness may not show up at your New Jersey Small Claims trial and you may be without crucial evidence to prove your Case!


IF YOU WANT TO USE DOCUMENTS AT YOUR NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS TRIAL, BE PREPARED TO HAVE THE RIGHT PERSON PRESENT TO TESTIFY ABOUT THOSE DOCUMENTS
You cannot always use documents at your New Jersey Small Claims trial.  Even affidavits are often unusable at a New Jersey Small Claims trial.  Often, Parties are prevented from using documents at their New Jersey Small Claims trials because they don’t have the right person to testify about the document’s authenticity/accuracy.  You may need to call and subpoena witnesses to testify about the documents that you want to use at your New Jersey Small Claims trial!


WHAT IS A NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS TRIAL SUBPOENA?
A New Jersey Small Claims trial subpoena is a document that summons a person to appear before the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial to give testimony (called a New Jersey Small Claims trial subpoena for testimony) and may also request a person to bring documents to the court for use during the trial (called a New Jersey Small Claims trial subpoena for records).   If you want to make certain that a person appears at the trial, you should prepare and have them served by process server with the appropriate type of New Jersey Small Claims trial subpoena.   


HOW ARE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS SUBPOENAS SERVED
 A New Jersey Small Claims trial subpoena may be served by any person 18 or more years of age. Service of a New Jersey Small Claims trial subpoena shall be made by delivering a copy thereof to the person named together with tender of the fee allowed by law, except that if the person is a witness in a criminal action for the State or an indigent defendant, the fee shall be paid before leaving the court at the conclusion of the trial by the sheriff or, in the municipal court, by the clerk thereof.    New Jersey Small Claims trial subpoena must be served at least 5 days before trial – that means that a New Jersey Small Claims trial subpoena must be received by the party you intend to subpoena a certain time before trial!!  Sheriffs may take 20 or more days to serve a New Jersey Small Claims Trial Subpoena so be sure to send out your New Jersey Small Claims Trial Subpoena well before trial is scheduled to occur or to arrange for a private process server to serve the New Jersey Small Claims Trial Subpoena in enough time before trial for the subpoenaed person to receive it and comply with it!!  Witnesses do not have to appear at trial unless properly served with a New Jersey Small Claims Trial Subpoena!!!  If you send out New Jersey Small Claims Trial Subpoenas and the trial gets adjourned, you must reserve new subpoenas and pay new fees (by following the below instructions all over again) and notify the witnesses of the adjournment.  A subpoena may be issued by the clerk of the court or by an attorney or party in the name of the clerk or as provided by R. R. 7:7-8 (subpoenas in certain cases in the municipal court).  The subpoena state the name of the court and the title of the action and shall command each person to whom it is directed to attend and give testimony at the time and place specified therein. If the witness is to testify in a criminal action for the State or an indigent defendant, the subpoena shall so note, and shall contain an order to appear without the prepayment of any witness fee.  A subpoena requiring the attendance of a witness at a hearing in any court may be served at any place within the State of New Jersey.


NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS SUBPOENAS FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS 
A subpoena or, in a civil action, a notice in lieu of subpoena as authorized by R. 1:9-1 may require production of books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or other objects designated therein. The court on motion made promptly may quash or modify the subpoena or notice if compliance would be unreasonable or oppressive and, in a civil action, may condition denial of the motion upon the advancement by the person in whose behalf the subpoena or notice is issued of the reasonable cost of producing the objects subpoenaed. The court may direct that the objects designated in the subpoena or notice be produced before the court at a time prior to the trial or prior to the time when they are to be offered in evidence and may upon their production permit them or portions of them to be inspected by the parties and their attorneys and, in matrimonial actions and juvenile proceedings, by a probation officer or other person designated by the court. 


WHAT IS A NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIM NOTICE IN LIEU OF SUBPOENA?
The testimony of a party who could be subpoenaed may be compelled by a New Jersey Small Claims Notice In Lieu Of Subpoena served upon the party's attorney demanding that the attorney produce the client at trial. If the party is a corporation or other organization, the testimony of any person deposable on its behalf, under R. 4:14-2, may be compelled by a New Jersey Small Claims Notice In Lieu Of Subpoena.  The New Jersey Small Claims Notice In Lieu Of Subpoena shall be served in accordance with R. 1:5-2 at least 5 days before trial. The sanctions of R. 1:2-4 shall apply to a failure to respond to a New Jersey Small Claims Notice In Lieu Of Subpoena.


WHAT IS A MOTION TO QUASH A NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS SUBPOENA?
The court on motion made promptly may quash (suspend) or modify the subpoena or notice if compliance would be unreasonable or oppressive and, in a civil action, may condition denial of the motion upon the advancement by the person in whose behalf the subpoena or notice is issued of the reasonable cost of producing the objects subpoenaed. 


WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVE A NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS SUBPOENA OR NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIM NOTICE IN LIEU OF SUBPOENA SERVED AND THE WITNESS FAILS TO APPEAR AT TRIAL?
Failure without adequate excuse to obey a New Jersey Small Claims trial subpoena served upon any person or a New Jersey Small Claims Notice In Lieu Of Subpoena served upon any part may be deemed a contempt of the court from which the subpoena issued.  If a party fails to comply with your subpoena, it is your obligation to make an appropriate motion to seek court imposed punishments for the contempt pursuant to the applicable court rules.  


WHAT ARE WITNESS ATTENDANCE FEES?
Witnesses and others served with subpoenas shall be entitled to the following fees for attending trial.
Each witness attending any of the following, in his own county, per day of attendance, $2.00; a court; a joint committee of the Legislature, a standing committee of either house or any special committee, which shall have been, by resolution, directed to enter upon any investigation or inquiry, the purpose of which shall necessitate sending for persons and papers and the examination of witnesses; a commissioner or commissioners; a master; a referee; an arbitrator; an officer taking a deposition; or any proceeding issuing out of any court.  Each witness so attending from a foreign county, at the rate of $2.00 a day, together with, for each day of attendance, an allowance of $2.00 for every 30 miles of travel in going to the place of attendance from his place of residence and in returning.  For the Secretary of State, or any clerk attending on subpoena, with records, wills or other written evidence, at the rate of $2.00 a day, and mileage as aforesaid.  


WRITE OUT THE QUESTIONS YOU SHALL ASK AT YOUR NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS TRIAL BEFORE IT STARTS
Judges usually want you to be prepared to start your New Jersey Small Claims trial as soon as your Case is called to be tried.  Judges don’t want to wait for you to decide what questions you will ask your witnesses during the New Jersey Small Claims trial.   How you ask your questions during your New Jersey Small Claims trial could affect whether you win your Case.  Take the time to prepare your New Jersey Small Claims direct examination and New Jersey Small Claims cross examination in advance of your New Jersey Small Claims trial.  


DO I NEED THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS EXPERT WITNESS TO PROVE MY CASE?
To understand how to handle a New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you should know how you are going to prove the case.  Often to prove one’s Case or to successfully defend against the Complaint, it is necessary to hire the New Jersey Small Claims expert witness to prepare a proper expert report and to testify regarding another party’s misconduct and the damages sustained as a result of the misconduct.  If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the factfinder at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as the New Jersey Small Claims expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.  To be considered by the New Jersey Small Claims Court, normally the New Jersey Small Claims expert’s opinion must meet three basic requirements:   (1) the intended testimony must concern a subject matter that is beyond the knowledge of the average juror; (2) the subject testified to must be at a state of the art such that the New Jersey Small Claims expert’s testimony could be sufficiently reliable; and (3) the witness must have sufficient expertise to offer the intended testimony.  To meet the element of whether New Jersey Small Claims expert testimony is sufficiently reliable, the Party offering the expert testimony must demonstrate that the expert’s opinion or theory is generally accepted within the scientific community.   The New Jersey Small Claims expert's opinion must be supported by facts or data either in the record or of a type usually relied upon by experts in the field.  Bare conclusions of the New Jersey Small Claims expert that are not supported by factual evidence are inadmissible.  Likewise, expert conclusions based on discredited or improperly performed diagnostic tools are suspect.  The New Jersey Small Claims expert's trial testimony is confined to the opinion reflected in his or her report.  Many expert opinions are never admitted into evidence and experts are thereby prevented from testifying at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial because the New Jersey Small Claims Court finds the reports unreliable and/or inadequate.  Therefore, simply hiring the New Jersey Small Claims expert does not assure that you shall get their testimony into evidence.  Professional experts usually charge a fee to inspect your property and write a report – sometimes they bill by the hour and sometimes via a flat fee arrangement linked to each service they are to perform.  The expert normally sends a copy of their report to the Party who hired the expert.  If your Case requires expert testimony and the matter goes all the way to trial, it shall be necessary to have the expert appear at and testify at same.  The expert usually charges additional fees for the time during which they must appear at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial but you may get the expert to include such services as part of the fee to perform inspections and to write reports.  While there are some exceptions, normally, courts do not allow people to show up at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial to introduce into evidence estimates, expert reports and other documents that they never prepared and witnesses are often necessary to prove the Case, especially when it comes to the Party’s damages.   


WHAT IS NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS MEDIATION?
To understand how to handle a New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you should understand about New Jersey Small Claims mediation.  In most cases, before the New Jersey Small Claims trial occurs the New Jersey Small Claims Court requires the parties to mediate their dispute.  New Jersey Small Claims mediation is an informal Hearing normally held in a conference room.  You and the other party and any New Jersey Small Claims lawyers involved in the Case appear at the New Jersey Small Claims mediation.  The New Jersey Small Claims mediation is conducted by a neutral court appointed mediator.  The New Jersey Small Claims mediator is trained in resolving disputes through the process of mediation.  Accordingly, the New Jersey Small Claims mediator attempts to resolve the Case by suggesting a possible settlement to both parties.  During the New Jersey Small Claims mediation, none of the parties is required to settle the Case.  Indeed, one or all of the Plaintiffs and Defendants may not even make any offer to settle.   Note that cases do not always undergo mediation.  Many New Jersey Small Claims mediations fail to settle cases.   If the Case cannot be settled before trial and your Case is called to be tried, you must be prepared to present your Case or defenses.


IS IT POSSIBLE TO SETTLE MY CASE BEFORE THE TRIAL STARTS?
Plaintiffs and Defendants may voluntarily agree to settle their case but preparing the proper settlement agreement requires great care.  Normally, at any trial proceeding, the New Jersey Small Claims Court has New Jersey Small Claims trial forms for the parties to complete.  However, neither New Jersey Small Claims trial forms, websites nor advice from New Jersey Small Claims Court personnel are good substitutes for a an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial attorney’s legal services.  Each Case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges.   For example, what if you don’t include protections to yourself in the agreement?   A court may refuse to enforce the New Jersey Small Claims settlement agreement if it is unclear what the parties agreed to.  Also, if the Plaintiff or Defendant fails to honor the New Jersey Small Claims Court settlement, you may have to return to court if you want to enforce the New Jersey Small Claims Court settlement, which normally requires you to file a motion.  If you can afford the New Jersey Small Claims attorney, it is best to have the attorney prepare the New Jersey Small Claims Court settlement agreement so that they can try to make the other parties agree to the best settlement terms for you.  If you do settle your Case yourself, you should notify the New Jersey Small Claims Court as soon as possible – with a phone call and then followed up in writing.  If the Case is settled before trial, you should make every effort to advise the New Jersey Small Claims Court before the New Jersey Small Claims trial occurs.


WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A PARTY RESTS THEIR CASE?
To understand how to try a New Jersey Small Claims case, it is first necessary to understand the danger of having your case dismissed!   The court may dismiss a case after a party rests their case, such as where the party fails to prove their case to the court’s satisfaction!   Be prepared with detailed legal and factual arguments to avoid a dismissal of your case!


WHAT IF A DEFENDANT FAILS TO APPEAR AT TRIAL?
If a defendant or a plaintiff against whom a counterclaim is filed fails to appear at trial, the court shall usually enter a default against them.  Once the party that gets the default files the proper paperwork, they may get a default judgment against the defaulted party – usually for a sum of money.


WHAT IF A PLAINTIFF FAILS TO APPEAR AT TRIAL?
If a plaintiff fails to appear at trial or a defendant who filed a counterclaim fails to appear at trial, their complaint or counterclaim shall usually be dismissed by the court, ending that part of the case.


WHAT HAPPENS IF DEFENDANT IS DEFAULTED ON THE COMPLAINT OR IF PLAINTIFF IS DEFAULTED ON A THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COUNTERCLAIM IN THE CASE?
If the Defendant is defaulted at the trial for failure to appear and to defend the Case or if plaintiff is defaulted for failure to appear and to defend against a the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim, then no trial will occur (unless the court vacates the default) and the Party winning the Judgment usually has a certain time frame from the date of the entry of default to file additional paperwork with the New Jersey Small Claims Court to seek the Default judgment against the losing party.  In some cases, securing the Default judgment only requires the winning party to submit paperwork, while in other cases, the Plaintiff has to prepare and file a motion and the Court may require the Plaintiff and defendant to appear at a court Hearing – a “proof Hearing”.


WHAT HAPPENS IF THE DEFAULT JUDGMENT IS ENTERED AGAINST YOU AND YOU IGNORE IT?
If you ignore the Judgment, your bank account may be frozen and money in it turned over to the Judgment holder, some of your wages may be taken from you, your personal property may be seized by the sheriff and sold to satisfy the Judgment and/or a lien may be put against a house you own.  If the Complaint is for Money damages caused by a motor vehicle accident and the Judgment requires the Defendant to pay $500 or more, the Defendant must pay within 60 days and if they do not, the Plaintiff may file papers asking the New Jersey Small Claims Court to direct the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to stop the Defendant's driving and registration privileges until that judgment is paid.  Often people wait until their bank account is frozen or until their wages are attached to take action – at that point it is difficult and sometimes too late to do anything to successfully stop those collection efforts.  It is not uncommon to refuse to help such latecomers from taking issue with the collection efforts unless they file papers with the Court for relief.  However, once the Judgment is entered against you, you may ask the Court to remove or “vacate” the Judgment (discussed below).


CAN I RELY ON NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT PERSONNEL FOR LEGAL ADVICE?
Court employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees.  Most court employees are not trained lawyers and therefore, they may not know what advice to give you.  Working at the court as a non-judge is not always the same as practicing law.  If you are serious about winning your case, consider getting New Jersey Small Claims trial help from an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial attorney.


CAN I RELY ON NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS TRIAL FORMS PROVIDED BY THE COURT?
To understand how to try a New Jersey Small Claims case, it is first necessary to understand the dangers of relying on New Jersey Small Claims trial forms.   The court usually provides certain types of New Jersey Small Claims trial forms to the public and those New Jersey Small Claims trial forms often very helpful.  However, beware relying on New Jersey Small Claims trial forms provided by the court – the New Jersey Small Claims trial forms are often deceptively simple, while Special Civil Part cases often are much more complex than they first appear to be.   There is simply no substitute for the services of an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial lawyer.  New Jersey Small Claims trial forms don’t talk and New Jersey Small Claims trial forms and their directions rarely, if ever, cover every possible situation, set of facts or legal issue that may arise in a case.  Each case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges.   If you can afford an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial attorney, it is best to have them give you New Jersey Small Claims trial help by preparing your paperwork and handling your trial.  


NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS TRIAL HELP BY AN EXPERIENCED NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS TRIAL ATTORNEY
Take the stress of handling a trial yourself out of your hands by hiring an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial attorney to prepare your case for trial and to try the case for you with you as a witness!  Handling your case wrong from the beginning may only cost you more money and time in the end!!  Do it right the first time by seeking New Jersey Small Claims trial help from an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial lawyer!  Handling your case wrong from the beginning may only cost you more money and time in the end!!   Do it right the first time by seeking New Jersey Small Claims trial help from an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial lawyer!  Many pro se parties make the mistake of not consulting an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial lawyer before filing papers only to later learn that the pro se parties made serious mistakes that could cause them to lose their case.  Recall that court employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees. Not all cases require you to pay expensive legal fees to get legal help.  Let the Law Office of Paul DePetris provide you with New Jersey Small Claims trial help.  Not all cases require you to pay expensive legal fees to get New Jersey Small Claims trial help.  Many people can and do successfully handle cases, from filing the first paperwork to the collection of a judgment.  However, many other people also make mistakes that lead to the dismissal of their cases or that result in the entry of a money judgment against them.  The following are reasons to consider New Jersey Small Claims trial help:
Appeals are very expensive and most are unsuccessful.
fees often change
rules often change
court employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a Special Civil judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees
New Jersey Small Claims trial forms available on websites may not cover every situation you may face in New Jersey Small Claims court
each  case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges
it is very common for people to file inadequate or incorrect papers rejected by the court or dismissed at trail because of procedural deficiencies.   
it is not uncommon for judges to get very frustrated by an unrepresented party’s lack of preparation or ignorance of the facts or law of the case.  
a court has the power to punish unprepared parties, such as by throwing their case out of court or limiting what they can present at the trial.  
New Jersey has many published cases, laws, regulations, court rules and rules of evidence that can be very tricky to understand and that can be used to prevent you from doing much of what you want to do at the New Jersey Special Civil trial.  
it is very common for courts to refuse to allow the Plaintiff or Defendant to use or refer to documents or items at the New Jersey Special Civil trial that the person themselves never prepared.  Often parties stumble into New Jersey Special Civil with a video, photograph, bill or affidavit or other form of written statement, thinking they are going to use it as proof that they lost money or that they are not responsible for someone else’s damages, only to have a Special Civil judge tell the parties that it is not going to even consider such items or documents.  
without the proper preparation, items and documents may never be considered by the New Jersey Special Civil.  Also, if there are any legal issues to be dealt with at the New Jersey Special Civil trial, you must be prepared to argue them, which may require you to refer to court rules, evidence rules, laws, regulations or published cases.  
you cannot show up at the New Jersey Special Civil expecting the Judge Hearing your New Jersey Special Civil case to explain New Jersey Small Claims court rules, evidence rules, court procedure or the details of the law that applies to your New Jersey Special Civil case.  The Judge Hearing your New Jersey Special Civil case is not permitted to give you legal advice.


It is important to remember that even if you have an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial attorney, you could lose your case.  Hiring an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial lawyer to give you New Jersey Small Claims trial help can never guarantee your success.  However, it may provide what is needed to win your case or to avoid certain mistakes.  To receive a no cost phone consultation about New Jersey Small Claims trial help, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send an email to him.   


DOES THE LAW OFFICE OF PAUL DEPETRIS HAVE EXPERIENCE HANDLING NEW JERSEY CASES?
Let an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial lawyer help you with your case.  Paul DePetris has performed the following tasks:
handled New Jersey cases for plaintiffs and defendants across New Jersey, from Bergen County New Jersey to Cumberland County New Jersey, including representations of individuals, small businesses and large corporations.
settled New Jersey cases for plaintiffs and defendants across New Jersey.
reviewed many New Jersey Court settlement agreements.
enforced many New Jersey Court settlement agreements.
provided New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants with New Jersey Court legal advice and prepared New Jersey Court legal forms
prepared and filed many New Jersey Court complaints 
tried New Jersey Court jury trials
mediated many New Jersey cases
argued New Jersey Court motions
handled New Jersey Court proof hearings
handled New Jersey Court post judgment collection proceedings


Consider the services of an experienced New Jersey Small Claims trial attorney.   Mr. DePetris has appeared before the Superior Court of New Jersey in the following counties:
Atlantic County New Jersey Court 
Bergen County New Jersey Court
Burlington County New Jersey Court
Camden County New Jersey Court
Cape May County New Jersey Court
Cumberland County New Jersey Court
Essex County New Jersey Court
Gloucester County New Jersey Court
Hudson County New Jersey Court
Mercer County New Jersey Court
Middlesex County New Jersey Court
Monmouth County New Jersey Court
Morris County New Jersey Court
Ocean County New Jersey Court
Passaic County New Jersey Court
Salem County New Jersey Court
Somerset County New Jersey Court
Sussex County New Jersey Court
Union County New Jersey Court
Warren County New Jersey Court 
Website Builder