David William Jordan

Attorney & Counselor at Law

How to Win Your Small Claims Case

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Many people choose to take their complaints to small claims courts because they are able to represent themselves and avoid lawyers' fees.  New Hampshire small claims courts handle disputes under $5,000.  You can bring a lawyer to small claims court, but the purpose is to avoid using a lawyer.  If you are handling your own case (known as pro se representation), follow these steps:

  • Obtain a complaint form from the small claims court clerk in the district that you live.

  • Complete the complaint form, making sure you state the full and proper name of the party you are suing; give basic facts of your complaint so the defendant knows what this is about and make sure you state the amount of money you are requesting.

  • Mail or bring the complaint to the clerk of court and pay the required fee.

  • The Clerk will send the complaint to the defendant and if the defendant responds to the Court, a trial date will be set.

What To Do Once You Get To Court

  • Get organized by gathering all pertinent information, such as canceled checks, contracts and correspondence.

  • Develop a one paragraph statement of no more than eight sentences that sums up your entire case.

    For Example: The defendant hired me to paint his house for $5,000. Here is a copy of the contract. I painted the house according to the terms of the contract and the defendant has only paid me $3,500.

  • The judge will then likely ask you a few questions. Listen to the question and answer only what the judge asks. What is important to your case is what the judge thinks is important.

  • If you have witnesses, have them testify to what they know first hand, not what they think or what they heard.

In short, keep it simple. Keep it professional. Don't get into personal attacks of the defendant.

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