The Court Hearing
No lawyers may represent a client in Small Claims Court. So it will simply be you and the property owner sitting before the Judge to state your case. The legal theories underlying your case are that the property owner is liable for:
1. Maintaining a nuisance
2. Acting negligently
To support this legal theory, you must prove that:
1. The property owner owns the problem residence and was notified of the problem and given a reasonable opportunity to correct it.
2. The activities of the problem residence have deprived you of the quiet use and enjoyment of your premises and/or caused you emotional distress.
It is critical that the Judge knows what the case is about before you start arguing it, so tell the Judge the problem and briefly outline your position.
Now present your case to the Judge, describing in detail the problem. A map of your neighborhood, photos of the problem residence and a display board of any litter or other debris are good support documents. Describe what efforts you took to address the problem residence and what actions you took to contact and discuss the problem with the property owner.
If you have any witnesses, like a police officer or a neighbor not involved in the case, you can have them testify.
Read your personal statement detailing the emotional and mental distress the problem residence caused you.
The property owner will have his/her chance to talk and ask questions. Do not interrupt. You will have your chance to respond.
When you finish your presentation to the Judge, you should be sure that he/she realizes that you have incurred certain court costs and ask for these costs to be added to the judgment. Ask the Small Claims Court Advisor which costs you may ask for.
The Small Claims Court Judge can award each plaintiff up to $10,000, but does not have the power to order the property owner to evict a party who is not before the court.
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