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

 

SMALL CLAIMS are presided over by the Justice of the Peace. The amount in controversy may not exceed $10,000 excluding statutory interest and court costs BUT including attorney fees, if any.

DEBT CLAIMS are in the same court and are described as a suit brought to recover a debt by the assignee of a claim, a professional debt collector, collection agency, a financial institution, or a person or entity engaged primarily in the business of loaning money at interest.

REPAIR AND REMEDY CASES are cases filed by a residential tenant under Chapter 92, Subchapter B of the Texas Property Code to enforce a landlord's duty to repair or remedy a condition materially affecting the health or safety of an ordinary tenant. The relief sought may not exceed $10,000, excluding statutory interest but including attorney fees, if any. The cases are governed by Rules 500-507 and 509 of Part V of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. To the extent of any conflict between Rule 509 and the rest of Part V, Rule 509 applies.

EVICTION CASES are those cases brought to recover possession of real property under Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code most often between a landlord and a tenant. A claim for rent in arrears (back rent) may be joined with an eviction if the amount of unpaid rent does not exceed $10,000 excluding statutory interest but including attorney fees , if any. These cases are governed by Rule 500-507 and Rule 510 of Part V of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. To the extent of any conflict between Rule 510 and the rest of Part V, Rule 510 applies.

These Rules have been created for ordinary people to have simple, speedy and inexpensive remedies without the formality of other courts.

The following forms in this section may or may not be best for your needs. You are welcome to download any for your use. If you need legal advice, you should seek an attorney you are comfortable with. If you do not have an attorney, you are welcome to use this link. Texas Bar Association

No judge or clerk of any court can ethically talk to you about any case that is pending or could be pending in their court. Please do not ask for legal advice.

Lawsuits begin by filing a "Petition" or "Complaint" with the Court.

  1. Copies of three commonly used forms which are commonly used in this Court (Small Claims, Eviction, Repair and Remedy, Small Claims Answer, Petition for Occupational License, Writ of Retrieval and Appeals). 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.
  2. When a lawsuit is filed, a Petition is prepared by the Plaintiff and submitted 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, Debt Claim and Repair and Remedy filing fees total $51.00. Eviction filing fees are $46.00. Service of Citations by the Constable total $85.00 in almost all circumstances.
  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 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 Debt Claim case, no later than the end of the fourteenth (14th) day AFTER being served the papers. If the last day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday the answer is due by the end of the first day following the 14th day that is NOT a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. Failure to file an answer may result in a default judgment against the Defendant. In Justice of the Peace, Precinct Four, Kerr County, the answer will be by filing a written answer with the Court Clerk. The times to answer other suits vary. Once you have filed an answer with the Court you should send a copy to the Plaintiff. The way someone answers a lawsuit is critical. You may need advice.
  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 aren't allowed to talk about a case whether the case is ongoing or may sometime be filed in the future. 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. It would be a violation of Canon 6 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and we just don't do it.

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.

Pay attention to the directions on the Citation. If you fail to follow directions you may lose the case by Default.

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. We have an answer form which MAY be of use to you. If you have any questions you should likely seek legal counsel. Answering a suit has serious consequences.

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.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct Four, Kerr County, Texas

 
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