Small Claims Clinic
By Janelle Floyd
The Legal Services of North Florida and the Leon County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Controller presented their quarterly Small Claims Clinic on July 30 to inform the public about the claims process.
Topics from filling formal complaints to the small claims process were discussed by Liz Alford, Leon County clerk; Robert Wheeler, Leon County judge and attorney J. Blair Boyd.
“We are hereto give public awareness about small claims and evictions,” said Liz Alford. “This is really the only time a clerk, attorney and judge are all in the same room answering questions.”
Filled with residents from all ages and questions, the Leon County Courthouse annex temporarily turned into an open forum.
“I came here tonight because I had questions about small claims,” said resident Eleanor Harper. “Currently I am going through the process and I learned a lot more than I actually came to learn.”
Created in the mid-20th century, small claims courts raised in popularity due to timeliness, efficiency and cost effectiveness. These courts are unique in that defendants and plaintiffs do not need a lawyer or attorney to be represented.
In Leon County, small claims handle minor legal disputes where the dollar amount is greater than $0 but less than $5,000. Before a trial date is set, both parties must attend a meeting with a mediator. According to the Clerk of Courts website, the mediation “is an informal and non-adversarial process with the objective of helping the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement.”
“All court cases are Tuesday mornings,” said Judge Robert Wheeler, going into more detail about the process in his presentation. “There will be a county judge there and usually we have up to 100 cases in a day.”
Wheeler continued to recommend, “The best advice I can give is you do not have to be anything fancy with your filing form. Just put on it what your damages are, and who damaged you and why.”
The next small claims clinic will be held on October 15 at the Leon County Courthouse.
To find out more information about small claims visit www.clerk.leon.fl.us.