Arrive on time the day of your trial. Assuming both parties appear at the time and date scheduled, the trial will be conducted in an informal yet orderly manner. The Plaintiff will present evidence first. The Plaintiff may do so by testifying on his or her own behalf and by also having other witnesses, including the Defendant, testify. After the completion of each witness’ testimony, the Defendant will have an opportunity to cross-examine the witness by asking questions. The Plaintiff may also show the Court exhibits (physical evidence), such as photographs, receipts, contracts, repair bills and estimates, written leases, or other items to support the claim for money.
After the Plaintiff has presented evidence, the Defendant may likewise present evidence by testifying on his or her own behalf, presenting witnesses to testify, and presenting exhibits. After the completion of each witness’ testimony, the Plaintiff will have an opportunity to cross-examine the witness. After the Defendant has presented evidence, the Plaintiff may present additional evidence, but only to rebut the Defendant’s case. After the Plaintiff has presented the rebuttal evidence (if any), both parties may make a final argument to the Court. Remember, although the trial is informal, all parties are subject to this decision only on the facts presented by the parties at the trial and on the law as it applies to those facts. Your presentation should be informative as to relevant dates, parties involved, actions taken or not taken, and damages. Remember that the Judge has no knowledge of the events surrounding your claim and may only base his decision on the evidence represented at trial.
If a party fails to appear at trial
If the Defendant fails to appear for trial (including the first trial date), the Plaintiff may request the Court to enter a default judgement against the Defendant for the amount stated in the claim. In order for the Court to enter a default judgement, the Plaintiff (or Defendant on a counterclaim) must show the following:
- There is a reasonable probability that the Defendant received the Notice of Claim;
- That the Plaintiff has no information that the Defendant is suffering from any legal, physical, or mental disability that would prevent the Defendant from attending and understanding the trial; and
- That the Plaintiff has a valid case and is entitled to the judgement requested. The Plaintiff may prove the above requirements by giving testimony to the Court.