& the Jackson Parish Justice of the Peace Court, District 'D'
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JACKSON PARISH JUSTICE OF THE PEACE COURT
DISTRICT 'D' INFORMATION
For Plaintiffs: I want to file a Small Claims Law Suit in
Justice of the Peace Court
What is the Justice of the Peace Court?
State law grants Justice of the Peace Court concurrent jurisdiction with Parish and District Courts on civil issues that the value of which does not exceed $5000.
The Justice of the Peace Court is very similar to what is referred to as "Small Claims Court". It was established by the State of Louisiana to take the load off of district courts by handling smaller, civil matters in Justice of the Peace court. In many cases, Justice of the Peace Court can offer a quicker, more informal and more inexpensive way of resolving many types of disputes you may have with particular individuals or companies than the District Courts.
Case law defines the Justice of the Peace courts as constitutional offices exercising the judicial power of the State of Louisiana, and presiding justices are judges within the contemplation of the law. La. Const. art. V, � 20; ?Redwine v. State, 94-160 (La.App. 1 Cir. 12/22/94); ?649 So.2d 61; ?In Re Wilkes, 403 So.2d 35 (La.1981); ?Quarles v. Jackson Parish Police Jury, 482 So.2d 833 (La.App. 2 Cir.), writ denied, 486 So.2d 750 (La.1986).
Many matters can be handled in Justice of the Peace Court.
What kind of matters?
Civil Matters under $5000.00 USD.
Some examples include but are not limited to:
EX:Tenant has damaged property and has violated lease agreement.
EX:Loaned Cousin $500 and he/she refuses to pay back
EX:You purchase a product and it does not perform as it should
EX:Someone fails to return a deposit to you
-Failure to receive wages
EX:Someone does not pay you for an amount agreed on
-Seeking possession of personal property
(Excluding Real Estate)
-Non-Sufficient Funds Checks
-Damage to your property
EX:Caused by Defendant or his pets
-Breach of Contract
EX:The contractor ripped out your old kitchen, then never came back to finish
-Goods and/or merchandise that you purchased are defective and the seller refuses to repair, refund or replace.
-You have a loss due to an accident.
-Your property is damaged or destroyed by someone performing a service for you
EX:Shop fails to repair your vehicle
The following type cases MAY NOT be instituted in the Justice of the Peace Court:
- Suits involving annulment, separation, divorce, alimony, separation of property.
- Succession, interdiction, receivership liquidation, habeas corpus, or the title to real estate.
- Suits against a state agency, parish, municipality or other political subdivision.
- Suits against a public official performing official duties.
Who can be sued in Justice of the Peace Court?
Any individual, business, company or organization can either file a case in Justice of the Peace Court or have one filed against them. However, Justices of the Peace do not have authority to hear proceedings such as suits involving title to real estate, the right to public office, divorce proceedings, suits against public bodies or executory proceedings.
What is a Civil Matter?
Civil matters are disputes between private persons or enterprises which are settled impartially in a court of justice. Civil matters may deal with compensation for damages, annulment of purchase or validity of contracts. Civil court cases can arise from situations such as evictions, unpaid loans and breach of contract. Although often decided by a Judge, civil cases generally do not result in criminal charges or penalties(Unless charged with Contempt of Court). Instead, monetary amounts are awarded based on the severity of the case. During the course of a civil case, both parties present evidence to justify their actions, and a decision is made based on that evidence.
Civil Situations are where you agreed to loan or made a deal to sell something with installments with another person or business. EX: Neighbor comes over and takes your drill without permission, that is a criminal matter of theft. Now, say that Neighbor comes over and asks to borrow or rent drill and you GIVE permission. When time comes neighbor refuses to give it back.
That is a Civil Matter.
What is the limit?
The cap that Justice of the Peace Court is $5000.00, however some Plaintiff's may be owed more, but settle for the maximum cap of $5000.00.
EX: Defendant owes Plaintiff $5,200.00. Plaintiff can only sue for $5000.00 in Justice of the Peace Court.
How do I File the Claim?
The plaintiff must complete a Statement of Claim and Citation. The form must include a simple statement as to why the plaintiff is suing. Next, the form must be returned to the Justice of the Peace's office with the appropriate fee. The form can be found by clicking link below, or will can be found in box by front door of Jackson Parish Justice of the Peace Court located at 5185 Quitman Hwy, North Hodge, LA, 71247.
(Across from North Hodge Village Hall).
CLICK HERE TO GET FORM STATEMENT CLAIM AND CITATION TO FILE A LAWSUIT
What do I need to do to file a claim?
-The complete and proper legal name and address of the person/business you wish to sue. This party is called the "DEFENDANT" You will be the "PLAINTIFF" To file a statement of claim, you'll need to first gather the facts including what happened, where and when, how you were damaged, and what attempts you have made to recover those damages. Write this out in a simple narrative, attaching any exhibits (copies of letters, bills, checks, etc.) that will help prove your case. Basically the Court will need: Plaintiff's (Your) Name, address, phone, Defendants (Person you are suing) Name, Address, Phone, Amount to sue for, Year of problem, Defendant's Social Security number(if available)
Any other information you can provide, such as the defendant's employer or social security number, can help in locating him/her and assist later in the case of collecting on a judgment(if applicable to your case).
If you do not have some of the information, let the Justice of the Peace know.
Upon filing your complaint, you will be assigned a docket number and trial date.
Remember, only a corporation can be sued in the company name. If you're suing an individual or partner, use the person's name rather than the name of the business.
-If a business is being sued, you can call the Louisiana Secretary of State's Corporation Division at (225) 925-4704 to find out if the business is incorporated or if it is using a "trade name" (not incorporated).
-If the business is incorporated, you will be given the name and address of the REGISTRATION AGENT for the corporation. That is the PARTY (PERSON) who will receive notice of the suit.
-If the business is not incorporated, you must find the NAME OF THE OWNER of the business, not the name of the business itself.
How much will this cost me?
Filing Fees are located below:
CLICK HERE FOR COURT COSTS
Filing fees are regulated by the State of Louisiana. Most suits will start at about $100.00. Typically, the winner can include court costs in the judgment total.
If you incur extra expenses trying to collect your money (incurred by having to place liens or garnish wages), you're entitled to collect these costs and in some cases you could be entitled to interest on the judgment, as well.
Who pays court Costs?
Plaintiff pays costs up front, if Plaintiff proves case and is found in right accordance with the law, court costs can be awarded to Plaintiff and ordered to be paid by defendant.
What happens after I file a suit?
The Justice of the Peace Court's Constable will serve the defendant with the proper paperwork and with notice to settle debt or come to Court. You will receive a copy of the notice. In certain situations the Court will mail the defendant's copy by certified mail, return receipt requested. The plaintiff may also request a private process server if Defendant is unable to be found.
Where is the court located?
5185 Quitman Highway, North Hodge, LA 71247
It is a White Building located across from the North Hodge Village Hall
What do I need to bring to Court?
Any witnesses and documentation that could prove your case.
It is IMPORTANT THAT YOU BRING A COPY OF ANY EVIDENCE that may be helpful in proving your claim in court, such as:
- Paid Bills
Bring any document or other evidence you feel is important.
Who hears the claims in Justice of the Peace Court?
The claim will be heard by the Justice of the Peace,
Judge David D. Womack.
Do I need a lawyer?
No. In Justice of the Peace Court procedures are relaxed and more informal so plaintiffs and defendants can often represent themselves. However, lawyers are allowed.
What if we reach an Out-of-Court Settlement?
If the parties decide to settle out of court, the Court must be notified. This is acceptable and encouraged.
The trial procedure is generally more informal than higher Courts, although it is still a Court and we will maintain certain decorum. You are to sign in and read the rules when you enter the building. The case will be a "bench type trial". Justice of the Peace Courts can not hold jury trials. It will be the Plaintiff(s) & Defendant(s) in front of the Judge. The case will usually be called by the Constable in open court and you will respond that you are present by standing and coming forward to be seated before the Judge. You will then be advised when to present your claim. Be prepared to present your claim in your own words. Make sure you have all relevant paperwork or evidence related to your claim. Plaintiff and witnesses will sit on right, Defendant and witnesses will sit on left when facing the Judge. The Judge will call the case number and start with the Plaintiff stating his/her case. Then will allow the Defendant to plead his/her case. The Justice of the Peace, Judge is empowered to ask questions and mediate, if necessary to bring a successful end to the case. The Judge may rule during the trial or continue the case to another date.
I won my case, how do I collect?
After appeal time is exhausted you may petition Court for measures to Execute or Satisfy the Judgment. Some common ways to accomplish this are the Defendant paying the debt, a Wage Garnishment, or Seizure of Defendant's property.
Collection of Judgment:
It is not the duty or the function of the Court to automatically pay or collect what is owed to you. It is your responsibility to take any and all legal action necessary to collect on your Judgment. In order to collect, you may have to take further action: such as a garnishment of the losing party's bank account or wages, or "seizure and sale" of certain non-exempt property belonging to the defendant. Additional court cost deposits are required for these actions, which, like other costs of court, may be recoverable from the losing party. If you do not know of any assets belonging to the losing party that you could seize, you may request a "JUDGMENT DEBTOR EXAMINATION" for an ORAL EXAMINATION as to the existence and whereabouts of the defendant's assets. You will be allowed to orally examine the defendant who will be under oath regarding his assets, employment, etc. This information may help you in finding other legal means for collecting on your judgment.
What happens if Losing Party does not appear for "JUDGMENT DEBTOR EXAMINATION"?
Judge is empowered by law to sign an arrest warrant and punish for Contempt of Court, including jail time and fine.
When Payment is Received?
When the judgment has been satisfied, the receiving party must send written notice to the court that the Judgment has been satisfied.
I don't like the outcome, can I appeal my case?
Yes, you have 15 days to file an appeal to have a Trial De Novo (New Trial) in District Court. However, you should be aware that the appeal process can be lengthy and costly and may require that you hire an attorney.
Is Justice of the Peace Court Fair?
Judge Womack strives to be fair and is proud of his record of such. When Judge Womack enters his podium he can not take any negative outside information into consideration about the Plaintiff or Defendant, unless one of the parties presents the information in testimony. Judge Womack does not see color, size, gender, shape, or orientation while he is setting on the bench.
Judge Womack has heard hundreds of cases and in that amount approximately 3 have been appealed. To our knowledge, none have actually made it to District Court.
The Justice of the Peace is not allowed to legal advice, nor will he. This page is intended to be a procedural guide with examples to help assist you in using the Justice of the Peace Court. It is your responsibility to know what you are supposed to do, even if it is not listed here. If you need to, consult an attorney. Justice of the Peace will not be liable for any information that is inadvertently or incorrectly listed here.
Justice of the Peace, Judge David D. Womack presides over Small Claims Court every other Thursday at 5185 Quitman Hwy, North Hodge, LA, 71247 at 3:00 pm.
(Across from North Hodge Village Hall)
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