Magistrate Court Hearing
Some counties require mediation prior to a hearing before the judge. This allows the parties to try to settle the case without a hearing. Even if the parties agree to settle out of court, the plaintiff may ask the defendant to pay the court costs. If they cannot agree to settle, the judge will instruct both parties about courtroom procedure and hear the arguments presented by both sides.
The plaintiff and defendant may question or dispute each other's testimony during the hearing. When both parties have completed their presentations, the judge will give a judgment (make a decision). The judge may grant an award of monetary damages to the plaintiff, to the defendant or both.
The plaintiff must appear in court on the day of the hearing, or the judge may:
- Allow the defendant to present testimony and give a judgment, without hearing from the plaintiff.
- Postpone the case until a later date.
- Dismiss the case.
The defendant must appear in court on the day of the hearing, or the judge may grant a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
Preparing for the Hearing
Before the hearing date, both parties should:
- Collect all documents that would help to prove their case. Make extra copies for the judge and the other party.
- Contact any witnesses who have agreed to testify and inform them of the hearing date.
- Subpoena documents or summon witnesses to appear in court, if needed. A subpoena is a command to appear before the judge in order to give testimony or produce evidence. A subpoena can be obtained from the clerk of the magistrate court. Contact our office to find out the fee for this service.