After August 31, 2013, new rules will go into effect that will make it even easier to represent yourself or your business in a Justice of the Peace Court. JP Courts typically hear civil cases that involve suits to collect on a debt, breach of contract cases, credit card debt cases, and landlord tenant issues. The Court has jurisdiction over these types of cases when the amount in controversy does not exceed $10,000.00.
While the new rules are an attempt to level the playing field between lawyers and non-lawyers, you are still required to prove your case or assert any possible defenses. You are also responsible for proving the amount of your damages. Of course, you can still hire a lawyer, and you might be able to recover your attorney’s fees depending on the type of claims you want to bring.
A few advantages to filing in Justice Court are: (1) individuals can represent themselves, (2) the Judge has the ability to ask questions to develop the case, and (3) the time between filing your case and having it heard is typically much quicker than in district or county courts. A possible disadvantage is that an unhappy party can appeal and receive a trial de novo (a new trial) causing the whole case to be reargued in County Court.
If you have questions about bringing your case, filing an appeal, or pursuing post-judgment collection in Justice Court, please email Amanda Torres, or call her at (361) 886-3800.