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Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4
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Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4

 

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 Bar of Texas for referral services.

There is an excellent booklet published by State Bar of 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 filing fees total  $32.00. Justice Civil Court filing fees are $32.00 and Eviction Suits filing fees are $27.00.

 

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 Kerr County, the fee is $65.00 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.

 

4.       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 ten days AFTER being served the papers. In Justice of the Peace, Precinct Four, Kerr County, the answer will be by filing a written answer with the Court Clerk. The timing is an odd process but it works very well.

 

5.       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.

 

 

If 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.

 

Giving 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 Conduct.

 

In 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 ten (10) 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.

 

Answering 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.

 

Once 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.

 

Usually, 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 assistance.

 

Evictions 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.

 

In 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

 

 

 
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