Thoughtful Guidance From Skilled Attorneys

Marion County Small Claims Court Becomes More Complicated and Potentially More Expensive

| Jul 23, 2020 | Firm News

If you have a case in Marion County Small Claims Court and the judge does not rule until after June 30, 2018, your appeal will then go to the Indiana Court of Appeals based upon the statute below.  This statute appears to say that you could have your trial now without a record, and if the judge waits until after June 30, 2018 to rule, then your appeal will be to the Indiana Court of Appeals and you will need to create a record of your own.  As a result of this change, you need to have as much documentary evidence as you can to substantiate your case in the record.  Appeals to the Indiana Court of Appeals are very technical and can be very expensive, so you should be careful if you find yourself in this situation.

The Marion County Small Claims Courts will become Courts of record on July 1, 2018.  Indiana Code 33-34-1-3 provides:

(a)   This subsection applies before July 1, 2018.  The small claims court is not a court of record.  A person who wishes to appeal the judgment of a small claims court entered before July 1, 2018, shall appeal the case to the circuit or superior court under IC 33-34-3-15.

(b)   This subsection applies after June 30, 2018.  The small claims court is a court of record.  A person who wishes to appeal the judgment of a small claims court entered after June 30, 2018, shall appeal the case to the court of appeals in accordance with IC 33-34-3-15.1

Currently, under IC 33-34-3-15 all judgments in the Marion County Small Claims Courts are appealed to the Marion Circuit or Superior Court for a trial de novowhich means you can appeal and get a new trial.  This was sometimes referred to as the “one free shot” because the parties had a new trial in the Superior Court and were not stuck with the evidence they presented or failed to present at the trial in the Marion County Small Claims Court.   By making the change to a court of record, all judgments entered after June 30, 2018 by the Marion County Small Claims Courts will have to be appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals.    This means parties will be forced to create a record for appeal by objecting to evidence offered at trial and making sure they present all of their evidence.  If you want to still have your “one free shot,” your small claims case will have to be tried and the judgment entered by the Court before June 30, 2018.

A Defendant to a suit filed against them in the Marion County Small Claims Court can request a jury trial in most cases.  Pursuant to Marion County Local Rule, “A demand for trial by jury must be filed with the Court no fewer than ten (10) days after the first setting of the initial hearing.”  Marion County Rule LR49-TP38-303.  Once the Marion County Small Claims Courts become courts of record, the only way your case will be tried to the Marion Circuit or Superior Court is if you request a jury trial.

Due to these changes many parties are considering filing their cases in Marion Superior or Circuit Court rather than the Small Claims Courts.

Mann Law, P.C. Attorneys at Law, www.rmannlawoffice.com

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