Additional Instructions to Both Parties
Small Claims cases are informal. Parties are encouraged to represent themselves. However, you may hire an attorney if you wish. Parties with attorneys will not get preferential treatment.
If the claim is settled prior to the trial date, call the court for instructions.
Postponing the Trial
If you want to change the trial date, you must request a continuance. Fill out the Request for Continuance from available at the court. The court must receive your Request for Continuance at least five calendar days before trial. The Court Clerk can grant a continuance of up to 45 calendar days. A longer continuance may be granted only by the judge. each side can only get one continuance from the Court Clerk.
Evidence and Witnesses
It is extremely important that you bring with you to trial all witnesses and papers necessary to prove your claim or defense. If you fail to do this, the case may be decided against you. Strict rules of evidence do not apply in trials of small claims actions. Irrelevant or unduly repetitious evidence will be excluded. A court may receive the type of evidence commonly relied upon by reasonable prudent persons in the conduct of their serious business affairs. The judge may allow hearsay that is probative, trustworthy and credible. Hearsay is testimony about what someone else said. If at all possible, witnesses should testify about their first hand knowledge. However, if possible, a party should have witnesses to testify rather than rely on hearsay. Claims bases largely on hearsay will generally be disallowed. Evidence should be offered through the statements of live witnesses at trial, except that written statements such as repair bides, appraisals, repair bills and medical bills may be used instead of live testimony to establish the amount of a claim. If you intend to rely on such written statements, you should bring them with you. Be sure that the statements are itemized, signed and submitted on the preparer's original letterhead. If your case involves a damaged item, you should give the other party a chance to inspect the damage prior to trial.
If you need the testimony of a witness who will not attend trial voluntarily, you should ask the court or your attorney to issue a Subpoena requiring that person to attend. It is your responsibility to have the Subpoena swerved and to pay the witness and service fee. A Subpoena must be served at least 5 calendar days before trial. You may have a witness appear voluntarily without a Subpoena, but the judge will not continue trial if the witness fails to appear.
If judgement is granted, the winning party has the right to enforce the judgement. The losing party may be required to testify regarding assets and income. A lien can be placed on the losing party's property, and non exempt wages, bank accounts, stocks and other assets can be seized and sold by the sheriff or constable. A judgement accrues interest and the prevailing party may be entailed to recover court costs accruing after judgement. A judgement must be collected or renewed within 8 years of the date it is granted or it expires. When a judgement is paid, the winning party must file a Satisfaction of Judgement with the court.
Either party may appeal a Small Claims judgement within 30 calendar days of the loser's receipt of notice of entry of judgement. A Notice of Appeal must be filed with the court that issued the judgement and the appropriate fee paid ($225.00 payable to the Third District Court and $10 to the Murray Court). The appeal is a new trial, called a trial de novo, held in the district court. The clerk will forward the trial court's file to the district court. The parties do not file new Affidavits, but the procedures for the trial de novo are the same as for the original trial. The parties present the evidence again, including any new evidence. The decision after the trial de novo is final and cannot be appealed.
If you are appealing a small claims judgment to the Third District Court, mediation is required before the case will be scheduled for trial. Utah Dispute Resolution will schedule an appointment for mediation and will notify the parties. When the mediation process has been completed, Utah Dispute Resolution will notify the court whether the case has been resolved. If the case has not been resolved, it will be set for trial.
Even if the judgement debtor files a Notice of Appeal, the judgement creditor may still collect the judgment during the appeal, unless the judge enters a "stay." To stay the judgment and prohibit collection, the debtor must file with the district court a bond sufficient to cover the amount of the judgement. A stay is governed by Rule of Civil Procedure 62.