& the Jackson Parish Justice of the Peace Court, District 'D'
I am proud to have served my community in one capacity or another since my first election in 2006, and taking my first office in 2007.
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JACKSON PARISH JUSTICE OF THE PEACE COURT
DISTRICT 'D' INFORMATION
For Defendants: I have been sued 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.
Should I go and talk to the Justice of the Peace about my case?
No, the Justice of the Peace will not want to hear any Ex Parte Communications. He will want to hear all sides fairly at one time in Court. You will have 10 days to answer claims against you or appear in Court to defend yourself.
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
- Text or Internet Messages
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.
Cross-Claims, Counterclaims, and Third-Party Claims?
The defendant may file a counterclaim against the plaintiff. The defendant is responsible for paying the filing fee for this service.
What happens if the defendant does not appear at trial?
Usually, if the defendant does not appear at trial, a default judgment will be entered in your favor for the amount of the claim or other relief.
I lost my case, now what?
The winner of the case will be awarded a Judgment against the losing party in the matter heard. The Judgment will be filed at the Jackson Parish Clerk's Office and is just as binding as a District Court Judgment. This places a Judicial Lien on any property in the Parish that the Defendant my own and prevents him/her from doing business with reputable banking institutions. The losing party usually makes an attempt to pay or make payment arrangements to the Judgment Debtor(Winning Party)to prevent further Court action.
What is Further Court Action?
After appeal time is exhausted, the winning party 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:
In order to collect, the Paintiff 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 the plaintiff does not know of any assets belonging to the losing party that they could seize, they may request a "JUDGMENT DEBTOR EXAMINATION" for an ORAL EXAMINATION as to the existence and whereabouts of the defendant's assets. The plaintiff will be allowed to orally examine the defendant who will be under oath regarding his assets, employment, etc. This information may help the plaintiff 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, fine or both.
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 Thursday at 5185 Quitman Hwy, North Hodge, LA, 71247 at 3:00 pm. (Across from North Hodge Village Hall)
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