Itasca County Court Administration
123 NE 4th St. Grand Rapids MN 55744

 
Small Claims Court
 
Filing Fees

Legal Claim Limit .................... $10,000.00
Lending Institution Limit ...........  $4,000.00

$0 to $2,499 ......... $75
$2,500 - $10,000 ....$81

A GUIDE TO CONCILIATION COURT
The Conciliation Court, also referred to as Small Claims Court, was created to allow citizens the opportunity to bring their casual claims before the court without expensive court costs, attorney fees, or complicated legal procedures.
 
DO YOU HAVE A CLAIM?
Conciliation Court settles claims that are below limits set by law. However, claims involving title to real estate are not included. You can reduce your claim so it can be heard, but if you reduce your claim, you CANNOT CLAIM MORE LATER. It will cost you money to file a claim. Also, consider if the person the claim is against (the Defendant) has the ability to pay you should you win in conciliation court.
 
WHERE DO YOU FILE?
You must file in the county where the DEFENDANT (individual you are filing against) lives. You can seek recovery for bad checks in the county where the check was issued, and you can claim for a security deposit on rental property in the county where the rental unit was located.
 
HOW DO YOU FILE A CLAIM?
If you are filing a claim, you are the PLAINTIFF. You should contact the Court Administration Office in the county where you are filing the claim. Claim forms are available from the Court Administrator on request. You must have the following:
  1. Your name and address and the name and address of the Defendant (the home address if the defendant is an individual).
  2. Amount of your claim and the reason for the claim.
  3. The date your claim arose.
The individual filing the claim will be required to verify (swear to and sign) the claim and pay the required filing fee. If you win in court, the Defendant may be required to pay the filing fee amount back to you. The Court Administrator will mail notice to you and the Defendant of the date your claim will be heard  by the Courts. The time from filing to the actual hearing may be from two to six weeks. Many claims are settled once notice is received. It is your obligation to notify the Court Administrator if you and the Defendant have settled your claim.
 
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE DEFENDANT FILES A COUNTERCLAIM AGAINST YOU?
The Defendant may also make a claim against you. It must be filed at least five days before the date set for the court hearing (Saturday, Sunday and holidays are not included in the calculating). The Defendant must pay a filing fee also. The Court Administrator will notify you if a counterclaim has been filed. If the claim against you is above the legal limit for Conciliation Court, the case then will be heard in District Court. The Defendant must also file an affidavit with the Court Administrator that the claim is filed in District Court. The Court Administrator will notify you if the hearing has been moved to District Court. You may have your claim reinstated any time after 30 days and up to three years upon filing an affidavit with the Court Administrator that the Defendant has not served you with a summons or taken the matter to District Court.
 
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A CONCILIATION COURT HEARING?
Although Conciliation Court hearings are very informal, you must be adequately prepared to present your case. Attorneys are not allowed in Conciliation Court - except by permission of the Court. All parties and witnesses who appear will testify under oath. The witnesses should be present and ready to testify. If a witness is reluctant to appear, you may obtain a subpoena to compel them to appear. You can get a subpoena from the Court Administrator by paying a $16.00 fee for each name. You should know that written statements and affidavits of persons not present in Court have very little value. You should bring all other evidence, such as receipts, repair bills, estimates, and other items which help prove your claim to the Court. You can also get a subpoena to get documents which relate to your claim which the defendant or some other person has but is not willing to give you. You should prepare a list of facts you wish to present before you go to court. Organize your presentation to make it as clear and complete as possible to the Court. All too often, important items which might affect the Court's decision are forgotten.
 
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FAIL TO APPEAR FOR THE HEARING?
All parties should appear. If you do not appear on the date your hearing is scheduled, the Court may dismiss your claim, or grant a default judgment against you, even if you originally brought the claim. If the Defendant does not appeal the Court may award a deferral judgment in your favor.
 
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE COURT HEARING?
The Court will not normally rule on your claim at the time of the hearing. After a decision is reached by the Court, the Court Administrator will mail notice of the judgment to both you and the Defendant. The judgment will not be effective until 23 days after the notice is mailed to give you or the Defendant time to appeal. Within that 23 days, the judgment can be set aside and a new hearing granted if a party who failed to appear can show good cause for not appearing. Before the Court grants a new hearing, the Court may require the party who did not appear to pay costs to the other party for inconvenience, but not to exceed $50.00.
 
HOW DO I APPEAL A JUDGMENT?
If you or the Defendant is dissatisfied with the judgment of the Court, the matter may be appealed (removed) to District Court. In order to do this a Demand for Removal and an Affidavit of Service must be filed with the Court Administrator within 23 days of the date the judgment was mailed. An additional filing fee is required.
 
WHAT HAPPENS UPON APPEAL?
If the matter is appealed to District Court, a new trial will take place. This is a completely new proceeding. The trial can be by jury if a jury demand is filed. Both parties may be represented by attorneys. You should not rely on anything that was said or that happened in Conciliation Court. Again, you should be prepared to present your case, have your witnesses ready to testify, and have all your evidence available. If you appeal to District Court and do not win, you will be required to pay the other party $200.00 as costs. You will not have to pay the other party if:
  1. You win your case in District Court and get either 50% of what you requested or more than $500.00 in money or goods.
  2. The other party wins some amount in Conciliation Court, but nothing in District Court.
  3. You win at least $500.00 in money or goods or 50% more in District Court than you received in Conciliation Court.
  4. The other party has the amount won from you in Conciliation Court reduced by at least $500.00 or 50% by District Court.
HOW DO YOU COLLECT A CONCILIATION COURT JUDGMENT?
If you receive a judgment and the other person does not appeal it or voluntarily pay the amount, you may choose to have the judgment enforced. First, you must have the judgment transcribed to District Court by filing an Affidavit of Identification of the judgment debtor with the Court Administrator. The judgment is good for ten years from the date of original Conciliation Court judgment. After transcribing to District Court, a Writ of Execution can be issued by the Court which empowers the County Sheriff to collect the debtor's property until the judgment is satisfied. The execution is delivered to the Sheriff's Office with a specific list of property or bank accounts which belong to the judgment debtor. If you are unable to find out what collectible assets the debtor has, you may ask the Court Administrator to issue an Order for Disclosure. This requires the debtor to reveal all nonexempt property and financial information to you within ten days. To issue an Order for Disclosure, the judgment has to be transcribed for a minimum of 30 days before the request, the judgment must not have been satisfied, and there has been no payment agreement entered into between the parties. If the debtor fails to respond to the Order, you may request the Court Administrator to issue an Order to Show Cause.