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Viewing Blog: Nevada Small Claims-Big changes!
10/8/2011 1:00:35 PM
Nevada Small Claims-Big changes!

The Nevada Small Claims court has made some big changes. In July 2011, they raised the claim amount to $7,500.00 from $5,000.00. In September of this year, Clark County, Las Vegas Justice Center now requires all Small Claims cases to be filed electronically. In addition, a Defendant now must file an answer with the court. Further, this Answer must be filed electronically; either using the Wiznet program or using the computers at the Las Vegas Justice center. The Small Claims Complaint and Proof of Service form have changed.

Very important to note- When you (or we) file your case, you are not given a hearing date. If the Defendant files an Answer, the court will first set a Mediation hearing. If the two parties are unable to mediate, the court will then schedule a trial before the Judge.

Don't worry, smallclaimsdepartment.com will take care of all of this for you anyway.

Please note that the Henderson and North County Justice Centers are not online yet. One still has to file the old fashioned way.

*******Very Important: The Henderson court strongly enforces the rule of having to show proof of a certified demand letter. When your case is filed, the Clerks require a copy of (or original) the green certified envelope**********

Here is a more detailed version of the Clark County Small Claims Changes:

Clark County New Procedures
Small Claims Answer (as of September 1, 2011)
In all Small Claims cases filed on or after September 1, 2011, all Defendants are required to electronically file (E-File) their Answer with the Justice Court Clerk's Office and a mail a copy by United States Mail, with first-class postage, to the Plaintiff(s) within 20 calendar days of service of the Complaint. Your failure to answer (respond to) the Complaint within 20 calendar days may result in the Plaintiff filing a Motion for Default Judgment against you. This means the Judge may grant a Judgment for the Plaintiff based on the claims/allegations in the Complaint without considering your possible defense(s) or explanation(s).

Parties in all Small Claims cases filed on or after September 1, 2011, are required to attend mediation. Mediation is an informal dispute settlement process in which a neutral third person called a mediator helps the parties communicate about the issues and options for resolving differences in order to reach an agreement on all or part of the issues in dispute. The parties keep the right to make decisions about their case; the mediator guides the process but does not decide the case. The mediator assists the parties in identifying issues, encouraging joint problem-solving, and exploring settlement alternatives. Please plan on spending 2-3 hours in mediation, although some matters can be mediated in less time. Only decision-makers may participate in mediation. You may bring evidence to share with the other party, but witnesses are not typically invited into the mediation room.

If a settlement has been agreed on by all parties, the mediator will complete the Court Mediation Agreement form and have all parties sign the form. The original Agreement will become part of the case file. The Neighborhood Justice Center will give each party a copy and keep a copy.

Cases that were not successfully resolved by mediation will have a Small Claims hearing date set by the Court 10 to 21 days later. Parties will be notified of their Small Claims hearing date by letter.

Small Claims Hearings

When a Small Claims Complaint is filed, the Court will assign a case number and a mediation hearing date. This date will be approximately 38 to 90 days from the date on which the Small Claims was filed. This will allow sufficient time for the Plaintiff to serve the Complaint on the Defendant and to return the Proof of Service to the Court.

On your Small Claims hearing date, you will go to a courtroom with many people who have also been scheduled for that day. First, the clerk will call the roll from the docket to see who is in attendance. Once this is done, a default judgment will be entered in cases where the Plaintiff appeared and the Defendant did not appear. If only the Defendant appears, but the Plaintiff did not appear, the case will be dismissed. It is very important to not be late, because if you arrive after the roll call, your case may already have been handled by either a default judgment or a dismissal.

IMPORTANT NOTE: At the beginning of each Court session, in the mornings and afternoons, there may be a lengthy line of people waiting to enter the courthouse through security. Be certain to arrive early so that you do not miss your case being called.

Next, the courtroom clerk will call your case and both parties will be assigned to a mediator. Your matter will be mediated at that time, or if there are a number of people waiting, it will be heard as soon as possible. The mediation will take place in a conference room within the Regional Justice Center. Cases that did not fully settle during mediation will be scheduled for a Small Claims hearing before a referee, 10 to 21 days later. Parties will be notified of their Small Claims hearing date by letter.

If your case goes to hearing before a referee, you and the other party in your case will move to the front of the courtroom. When your case number and names are called, you can present your arguments and tell your stories to the referee. Small Claims cases usually take no more than 10 or 15 minutes. It is very important, therefore, that you plan ahead regarding what you will say. Your story should be well organized and to the point. Do not go off on tangents, include too many details, or be repetitious. Stay calm and polite.

If you are the Plaintiff, you will speak first. As the Plaintiff, it is your burden to prove your case. You should not assume that the Defendant will admit fault or liability, so you must inform the referee of enough facts to convince him or her that you should win. Your opening statement should summarize the nature of your claim and the damages you have suffered as a result of injury, breach of contract, violation of a right, etc.; why the other person is at fault through intentional or negligent behavior; and why you did not contribute substantially to the loss.

If you are the Defendant, you will speak after the Plaintiff. As the Defendant, you may make an opening statement after the Plaintiff is done, or you may make your opening statement after the Plaintiff has presented their entire case and before you offer any evidence, including your own testimony. The Plaintiff has the burden of proving their case. You may decide whether or not to testify or present any witnesses. You may wish to tell the referee why you are not responsible for the claims made by the Plaintiff or present other evidence. Court staff cannot advise you on whether to testify or present evidence.

You may also bring witnesses, either someone who has firsthand knowledge of the facts (example, he saw the accident) or is an expert on the subject (example, the mechanic who examined your car after it was towed). You can also present documents or other evidence for the referee to consider. After both sides have presented their arguments, the referee may ask questions or allow cross-examination. The referee may decide the case immediately; if the matter is complicated, the referee may take the case "under advisement." This means that the referee will consider the facts, or research questions of law, and will issue a decision in writing at a later time.

If the case is heard by a referee, the referee will prepare written "Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendations." Either party may object to the referee's written decision by filing a Formal Objection within 5 days after receipt of that decision. Because of this rule, two outcomes are possible: o A timely objection can be filed, and a Justice of the Peace will review the matter by "trial de novo" (a new trial in w
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