Since attorneys are barred from small claims court, can I hire a non-attorney to represent me?

Can you have an attorney in small claims court in California

I have served as a Small Claims court judge in California.

Representing another person in court is practising law.

I wonu2019t permit it whether the representative is an attorney or not.

Attorneys are not permitted to represent people in small claims court.

Non-lawyers are not allowed to represent anybody in any court in California, so the answer to your question in California is u201cunequivocally, No.

u201d,In California, a lawyer may not appear in small claims court (with one very limited exception).

Everybody appears for themselves.

There are certain allowances.

Businesses must appear though an officer or managing agent.

Individuals who have difficulty speaking English can have translators.

I served in the 1980s in an area with a large influx of Vietnamese boat people and quite often young children would be translating for grandparents.

Thatu2019s not a problem.

Many people have difficulty in speaking in a somewhat confrontational setting.

I insisted as a strictly enforced court rule that there would be no Intimidation at all.

There would be ZERO communication between the parties.

ALL communications would be to me, the judge.

Any eye rolls, huffing and puffing or shocked looks of disbelief would be dealt with harshly on the spot by me.

This is my courtroom, not Judge Judyu2019s.

,All of this was done in an effort to allow timid, soft-spoken or frightened people a chance to tell their side of the story.

I did allow emotional support people to appear, so a relative or friend could stand next to the plaintiff or defendant.

,I am writing this to emphasize the single most important thing to do when appearing In small claims court.

It has nothing to to do with laws! lawyers wonu2019t help you present your case at all.

The law in small claims court cases is extremely straightforward: landlord-tenant, parking lot accidents and consumer commercial transactions cover 99% of all small claims court cases.

Explanations of the law are not helpful or desired.

Anybody can appear in small claims court and expect a fair hearing on the facts of their case.

,What is needed is an organized presentation of the facts.

Thatu2019s all.

Now, lawyers can actually help the organization but that help occurs before the hearing by preparing a chronological outline of facts and documents.

I have prepared such outlines for clients appearing in small claims court and seen others used in small claims court, but non-lawyers are easily capable of preparing an organized presentation.

The presentation simply consists of describing what happened and providing any relevant documents.

Here is a complete plaintiffu2019s case for the return of a security deposit:,u201cI moved out of the apartment on March 30.

Hereu2019s the receipt for my key return.

The walkthrough was March 28, I took some pictures on my iPhone, here they are.

I contacted the management company for my security deposit on April 7.

Itu2019s now May 15, and Iu2019ve gotten no response.

My security deposit was $700, hereu2019s a cancelled check.

u201d,Theres nothing elaborate about this.

Thereu2019s no need for attorney assistance or help.

Almost every case can be presented in less than 5 minutes.

Thereu2019s no need to overthink matters.

Notice that no u201clawu201d was presented.

I know the law.

I know what leases say and Iu2019m very aware of the 15-day time limit and triple damages provisions for mishandling security deposits.

I had only one case where I didnu2019t know the law at the time.

That case involved a car stolen when the key was removed from the late-night drop off slot at the car dealer.

Was the dealeru2019s posted disclaimer of liability valid so the car owner was out of luck or was the dealer responsible for constructing a key drop accessible by car thieves? I took the matter under submission and quickly found the California state law that imposed dealer liability for any Late night drop box losses.

Judgement for plaintiff and against the dealer.

,I will also say that my tenure as a small claims court judge affected my own presentations to judges.

They donu2019t need and definitely donu2019t want lengthy dissertations of applicable law.

They want an organized presentation of facts.

How do I take someone to small claims court in California

The answer to your question depends on what state has jurisdiction over the defendant.

Letu2019s say you are suing over a car crash that happened in Colorado.

You are suing for property damage under the max so you can sue in small claims.

Since the crash happened in Colorado you can sue in the county in Colorado where it occurred.

The court has jurisdiction over the defendant and the subject matter because of where the accident happened.

,On the other hand, letu2019s say you bought something on ebay from the person in California.

They donu2019t have a business in Colorado and have no connections to Colorado.

You would have to file a lawsuit in the country where the person has their business in California or where they live in California.

This is because the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant in Colorado.

,If there is a contract that spells out where you have to sue, then you would have to sue in that location.

,As far as the process, once you figure out where to sue look up small claims court for that jurisdiction.

You will likely find the forms online.

Whether you can involve a lawyer in court depends on the specific stateu2019s laws.

In some states lawyers may try cases in small claims court, in others they may not.

Regardless of whether a lawyer can appear in court, you can always consult with one to help you formulate your case.

Small Claims Court online filing

I filed at our local court house where there was an office to get the forms and people to explain how the process works and what you need to do.