Go to your small claims trial

illustration of a remote hearing

Do you have a remote hearing? Get tips for what to expect if you have a remote hearing.


Be on time or early for court

The date, time and courthouse are written on the front of the SC-100 form.

Know in advance which department you need to go to and in which courthouse

Leave enough time to:

  • Find parking
  • Walk to the courthouse
  • Go through court security if there is any
  • Find the courtroom and check in with the bailiff or the court attendant
Illustration of a courtroom during a trial

When your case is called

Go to the front of the courtroom when your case is called

  • Bring all of your court papers with you and any other papers you may need to show the judge and other side to prove your case.
  • Bring the list you wrote up in the last step so you don’t forget to tell the judge important information they need to make a decision. People often forget to say things they need to in court because they’re nervous or get distracted, even if they are normally calm and not nervous. 

Tell the judge your side

If you are the one who started the case, you will speak to the judge first. In a few minutes, you will tell the judge what you want and why. Other cases are scheduled for the same time as your hearing so you will only have a few minutes each time you talk.

Explain quickly:

  • What the situation is
  • What you want the judge to order
  • Why

The judge will give the other side a chance to speak. Listen carefully to what they say. Do not interrupt the other side or the judge. Make notes for yourself if you need to respond to something they say. Answer politely when the other side or judge asks you a question. 

The judge may stop you from speaking if what you are asking for doesn’t follow the law. 

The judge has to follow the law when they make their decision. They can’t make a decision based simply on feelings of unfairness.

After you both speak the judge will make a decision

At the end of your hearing (which may take only a few minutes) the judge may make a decision right away (a judgment) or may mail you their decision (“take the case under submission”). 

The judge will write their decision on the Notice of Entry of Judgment (form SC-130 or form SC-200).

Be sure you understand the judge’s order. If you don’t understand what the order means you can ask the judge to explain it.

If the plaintiff doesn't show up, the case will be dismissed.
If the defendant doesn't show up and the plaintiff can prove their case, the plaintiff will likely win.
If either party wants a new trial, they can file a Motion to Vacate within 30 days from when the judge's decision was mailed.

You've completed the trial part of the small claims process. Now you can go to the next part: paying or collecting.

Small Claims

What's next?

After you get the judge's decision, you may have decisions to make or other steps to take. 

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