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Small Claims Court|Landlord/Tenant - Students' Attorney Program - ASUW

Introduction

Procedures have been instituted in Wyoming and most other states to provide people with small claims quick, inexpensive access to the courts. In Wyoming, claims for $5,000.00 or less can be brought in Small Claims Court, a division of the Circuit Court system.

Initiating A Claim

To bring an action in Small Claims Court, the plaintiff appears before the Circuit Court and signs an affidavit stating the full address of the defendant within the county, the nature of the claim, the amount due and stating that demand has been made and payment refused.

A modest appearance fee is charged to the plaintiff at the time the action is filed and is taxed to the defendant if the plaintiff later prevails on his claim. The claim will be heard within three to twelve days after the defendant has been served with notice of the claim.

Presenting the Claim

After the date is fixed for the defendant to appear, the plaintiff will also be ordered to appear with such books, papers and witnesses necessary to prove her claim.

Note that the burden of proving the claim is on the plaintiff. For most tenants, this burden may include proving full performance of the lease-rent payments made, condition of the apartment when the plaintiff moved out, etc. This is where the necessity of maintaining detailed records should become apparent. Documents, canceled checks, receipts, witnesses, and check-in/checkout sheets can be crucial evidence in meeting this burden of proof.

Because small claims procedure is designed to avoid the cost and delay that usually accompany disputes over larger sums, representation by an attorney is normally not practical or necessary, but it is not prohibited either.

The Judgment

Once the time for filing an appeal has passed, the judgment of the court becomes final. If the party against whom the judgment is entered fails to pay the judgment, the prevailing party may obtain the assistance of the court in collecting the judgment through execution against the property of the losing party or garnishment of wages or accounts. The costs of these remedies are also taxed against the judgment debtor.

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