SMALL CLAIMS and JUSTICE CIVIL COURT occur in the same court room, are
presided over by the same judge, have the same limits ($10,000) and are, in
fact VERY different
1.Lawsuits begin by filing a “Petition” or
“Complaint” with the Court.
Copies of three commonly used forms are included in
this section. These forms are very general and may or may not be the best for
your situation. If you need legal advice you should seek advice from your
attorney or contact the State Barof Texas for referral services.
There is an excellent booklet published by State Barof Texas ,“How to Sue in Small Claims Court”. It should be a good guide.
2.When a lawsuit is filed, it is a
“Petition” is prepared by the “Plaintiff” and given to the Court Clerk. Some
Petitions must be “Sworn” by giving an oath at the time of (in front of the
Clerk) or prior to filing (in front of a Notary Public). Some Petitions do not
require the Petition to be sworn.
Fees are charged to prepare the citation and pay some
costs required by the State of Texas.
Small Claims, Civil Justice and Eviction Suit filing fees total$54.00.
3.A Citation is prepared by the Court Clerk
to notify the “Defendant” they have been sued. There are very strict rules
about how a Defendant is notified. Usually the Constable, Deputy Constable or
Deputy Sheriff personally hands the Defendant the citation and copy of the
Plaintiff’s petition.As you might have
guessed, there is a fee charged for this. The amount of the fee depends on who
delivers the citation and what county the Defendant is served in. Each county
charges fees for service of citations that is approved by the Commissioner’s
Court of that county. In KerrCounty, the fee is $85.00
for most suits. In order for a Defendant to be served this citation, the
Plaintiff, when filing the suit, must provide a good street address
where the Defendant may be found.
In most suits, the Defendant must
“answer” or respond to the notice of being sued in Small Claims or Justice Civil Court
on, or before, the Monday that follows fourteen (14) days AFTER being served the papers. In
Justice of the Peace, Precinct Four, KerrCounty, the answer will
be by filing a written answer with the Court Clerk. The timing is an odd
process but it works very well.
Once the Defendant has “Answered” by
filing the answer with the Court and supplying the Plaintiff with a copy, the
case will be placed on the schedule (or Docket) for hearing or whatever
appropriate activity follows.
6.Judges and their Clerks or secretaries
just aren’t allowed to talk about a case whether the case is ongoing or may sometime
be filed. Ex Parte, talking to one
side of a suit without the other present, is unethical and improper and can
cause all kinds of trouble. If you are contemplating civil action, do not call
and ask for advice. We just cannot do it -nor will we.
you have been sued and you don’t know what to do, you should likely contact an
attorney and get some legal advice. No one at In Justice of the Peace, Precinct
Four, Kerr County, Texas, is allowed to give you any legal
advice EXCEPT that you should contact an attorney.
one person, or party to a lawsuit, advice while the
other side is not there is improper Ex
Parte communication, and forbidden by Cannon 6 of the Code of Judicial
Justice of the Peace, Precinct Four, Kerr
County, Texas, all
answers to lawsuits will be in writing (Small Claims, Justice Civil or
Evictions). The answer, in most but not all suits, is required by the Monday
next following fourteen (14) days from the date you were served the citation
notifying you of the lawsuit. Pay attention to the directions on the
Citation.If you fail to follow
directions you may lose the case by Default.
a lawsuit is critical and if you do not know how it is likely you are over your
head already. You may represent yourself without an attorney, especially in
Small Claims, but you may be in legal peril by not seeking competent legal
advice. Some answers are required to be sworn to in front of the Clerk or in
front of a Notary Public. Other answers may be filed without swearing to the
contents or intent.
you have filed an answer with the Court you should send a copy to the
Plaintiff. Especially in Justice
Civil Court, the way someone answers a lawsuit is
critical. You may need advice.
no fees are required for simply answering a civil lawsuit. If you file an
answer that includes cross- actions or counter- suits some fees may be
required. These answers are complicated and usually require legal advice or
may be complicated suits with critical deadlines. If you fail to perform a
required action within the time required by law, you may lose by Default or be evicted immediately. You
may see most of the laws concerning landlord and tenant disputes by viewing
them online at Texas Statutes a service
provided on the internet by the Texas Legislature. Look at the Texas Property
Code then know there are certain rules that apply to evictions in the “Texas
Rules of Court”. You may find a copy at the Public Library. Make sure the
volume you are studying is current.
Justice of the Peace, Precinct Four, Kerr
County, Texas, we do
not supply forms for answering lawsuits as the answers.
Justice of the Peace, Precinct Four, Kerr County, Texas