Magistrate Court Forms
Georgia Garnishment Exemptions
How to sue in the Magistrate Court
1. WHAT IS THE MAGISTRATE COURT?
The Magistrate Court is a court in Pierce County that handles money claims for under $15,000. A Magistrate holds an informal hearing, to listen to and decide each case. Any person may file a claim in Magistrate Court in his or her own name, without an attorney. (You may have an attorney represent you if you choose.
This would be at your own expense. The Court does not appoint attorneys for civil cases.) Either a person or a business may be sued. (See “deciding to sue”, paragraph 2. for suing a business.)
2. HOW TO BRING A CASE IN MAGISTRATE COURT.
A. DECIDING TO SUE
In addition, if you sue an individual, they must be a resident of Pierce County. If you sue a corporation, the business must be in Pierce County or a registered agent for the corporation must be located in Pierce County. Or, if you sue a sole proprietor of a business , the sole proprietor must be a resident of Pierce County. The Court cannot advise you on whom to sue or whether you have a good suit.
B. HOW TO FILE
In addition, you must put your name, mailing address and telephone number on the claim form. This is most important because the Court will use this address to send you notice of the date and time when your case will be heard by the Magistrate. Your case may be dismissed if the Court cannot locate you.
In order for the Court to pass judgment in your case, you have to sue the correct entity (example: person, corporation). The person you sue is called the “defendant”. If the defendant owns a business which is not incorporated, and your claim is against the business, you may sue the person and the trade name under which he/she does business in the county where the owner resides (regardless of where the business is located. (Example: John Doe d/b/a John’s Grocery.) You can usually find the exact trade name as it is registered with the Pierce County Superior Court or as it is listed on the business license issued by the county or city.
If the defendant is incorporated, you must sue the corporation itself, rather than someone who works for the corporation. Remember, you must sue a corporation in the county where it is doing business or is incorporated; or, you may sue the corporation in the county where the registered agent is located. (The registered agent is the person who should be served for the corporation.) If you need to verify if a business is incorporated and/or to get the registered agent’s name and address, you need to call the Corporations Listing Office of the Secretary of State, Corporations Division, Phone # 404-656-2817.
C. WHERE TO FILE
D. FILING FEE
E. NOTIFYING THE DEFENDANT
F. COUNTER CLAIMS – CLAIMS BY THE DEFENDANT AGAINST THE PLAINTIFF
G. PREPARING FOR TRIAL
While waiting for trial, you should gather all your documents (receipts, repair bills, warranties, etc.) and have them ready. If you have witnesses, you should notify them of your court date. Should a witness refuse to come to court, you may have the court issue a subpoena for their appearance. To do this you must apply to the court for the subpoena, provide the proper name and address for the witness and pay court fees for the subpoena. You are responsible for getting the subpoena(s) served.
If you settle your case and the defendant is willing to pay you on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis, and this arrangement is acceptable to you, you may ask the Court for a Consent Judgment Form. This form will enable you to put the terms of the agreement in writing with the signature of both parties and the Judge. Should the defendant fail to pay as per the Consent Judgment terms, you would be able to start collection proceedings without appearing for another hearing in Court. Remember, even though you receive a judgment in your favor, if the defendant does not work or have money or assets, you may not be able to collect on your judgment. The Magistrate Court cannot force the defendant to pay you the money owed to you. (See: COLLECTING THE JUDGMENT, below.)
I. THE TRIAL (HEARING)
It is very important for you to appear on time with all your evidence and witnesses. If you appear late or if you fail to appear, you may automatically lose
When your case is called, the court will ask if you are ready. Your testimony is usually essential in proving your case. You will be given a few minutes to attempt to negotiate a settlement before the Judge hears your case. You should make an earnest attempt to reach a settlement. Remember, you are the one most familiar with your case, the Judge will not normally be familiar with a case. It may be in your best interests to reach a settlement on your own rather than to have the Judge make a decision which may satisfy neither party.
You have the burden to prove to the court the liability of the defendant and the amount of damages you have claimed. Therefore, you have the first opportunity to tell the Court your side of the case and present evidence and witnesses on your behalf. After each of your witnesses has testified, the defendant may ask the witnesses questions pertaining to their testimony. After presenting your case, the defendant may then present testimony, evidence and witnesses to support his/her case. You may ask the defendant and his/her witnesses questions relative to their testimony. Remember, you must ask questions, not make statements or be argumentative, even if you do not agree with the testimony! After all the evidence has been presented, the Court will consider all the relevant evidence and make a decision or take the matter under advisement and rule on it at a later date. Once the Judge has made a decision, it will be prepared in writing, the Judge will sign the judgment and you will be mailed or given a copy.
Appeals must be made within 30 days from the date ofthe Judge’s decision. If the defendant files the appeal, he/she would have to pay Magistrate Court costs plus the appeal costs. If the plaintiff files he/she would have to pay only the cost of the appeal to Superior Court. There is no appeal of a default judgment.
L. COLLECTING THE JUDGMENT
Upon receiving a judgment from the court, you may want to:
1. have the court issue a FiFa for you. The FiFa, (proof of your judgment) once issued, places a lien against the losing party and any property they may own. The cost for issuing and recording the FiFa on the General Execution Docket is $7. You may also take your FiFa and have it recorded in any county in Georgia. If you need to record your FiFa outside the State of Georgia, you should consult an attorney.
2. file a continuing garnishment. Garnishments filed against the paycheck are filed in the county where the employer is located (usually where they cut the
3. file a regular garnishment against a bank account. These garnishments are filed in the county where the bank is located.
4. levy against real or personal property. This process is started by having a FiFa issued. Since the FiFa is your proof of having a judgment, the Sheriff will require the FiFa to levy against any personal property. To levy against real property, you should contact an attorney for the procedure.
5. turn your judgment over to an attorney or collection agency for collection.
M. IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER
2. The Magistrate Court was designed for you to represent yourself. You can have an attorney represent you.
3. Once a court date has been set by the court, continuances are granted by consent of both parties only, or for legal cause only.
4. It is very important that you sue the correct party. If you have any doubts as to whom you should sue, consult an attorney.
5. The court cannot advise you on whom to sue. The court can help you with the preparation of your complaint form only.
6. The court cannot force the losing party to pay you once you receive a judgment. You may not be able to collect your judgment.
7. Finally, it is important to remember that you have been given basic information for suing in the Magistrate Court. Some cases require more detailed instructions and preparation than presented herein. If you have questions that do not require legal advice, the court will be happy to assist you. If you need legal advice, you should contact an attorney.
N. WHAT THE MAGISTRATE COURT CANNOT DO
2. Hear divorce cases.
3. Hear child custody cases.
4. Issue injunctions, temporary protective orders or restraining orders.
5. Hear equity cases.
6. Clerks cannot give legal advice.
7. Judges cannot give legal advice when acting in their capacities as Magistrates nor in any matter that may come before their court.
312 Nichols Street,
Blackshear, GA 31516
P.O. Box 679,
Blackshear, GA 31516
Number: 72031 | Date: 12/06/2007.
About Pierce County
Pierce County, established in 1857 and named for President Franklin Pierce, grew out of Appling and Ware counties' lands.
The county seat, Blackshear, bears the name of General David Blackshear who fought Indians in Georgia and Florida during the War of 1812.
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