Places everyone! Let’s set the stage for your average courtroom scene. There are several people you’ll encounter in the courtroom and it’s a good idea to know who they are and what they do. After all, it could help you win your case.
1. The Judicial Officer
This is the person who decides the fate of your case after hearing both sides of the story. The judicial officer wears a black robe and sits in front of the courtroom facing everyone else, you can’t miss him! Or rather, please don’t. They are the most important person in the courtroom, besides you of course. They weigh the evidence that the plaintiff and defendant provide; then they make a decision, which could very well take a couple months.
Judicial officers may be a:
- Judge – Superior court judges elected by the county voters.
- Commissioner – Chosen by the court and given power t hear and make decisions for certain legal matters.
- Temporary Judge – A lawyer volunteering their time to hear and decide cases.
- Referre – A type of master who is appointed by the court to assist with certain proceedings.
2. The Court Clerk
The clerk helps the judge with several tasks including managing cases (like yours), keeping court records, dealing with financial matters, and giving administrative support to the judge and court. The court clerk is easily missed, but arguably a vital actor in the courtroom. Note to you: be nice and polite to this person! They are managing your case after all. In addition, they can certainly help you acquire information that could help you with your case.
3. The Baliff
You’ve probably seen this person around, they’re the ones in uniform with the no-nonsense expression on their face. Most courtrooms have a baliff who is in charge of security in the court. They’re assigned by sheriffs or marshals. Yeah, don’t act suspicious or the baliff will not hesitate to arrest you.
4. The Court Reporter
These people put pen to paper to record each and every word said during the court proceedings. Ever wondered how they manage it? Well, they’ve got their own special tools to help them do the job as well, usually making use of a stenographic machine or a recording device. Some courtrooms – for example, small claims – don’t have court reporters, so don’t expect to see one there. If you want a copy of the official transcript they type up, you may have to pay for one.
5. The Court Interpreter
¿Se hablas inglés? ¿No? You’re in luck then, whether it’s Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Dutch or whatever, you can get yourself (or perhaps your key witness) a language interpreter so everyone knows what’s going on in the courtroom. These people are important if you have a foreign language speaking key witness who can testify for your side of the case.
In criminal court cases, the interpreter is paid for by the court. But in civil court cases, you might need to get and pay for your own interpreter.
6. The Lawyer
If you’re filing a small claims case, unfortunately you can’t bring a lawyer with you. Those are the rules in small claims, so you’ll have to represent yourself. However, if it’s any other case then yes, by all means bring a lawyer who can help you win your case and argue for you. Chances are your opponent will be bringing their own too.
7. The Defendant
This could be you, or maybe not. You’ll know you’re the defendant if you’re being sued against. Is someone picking a legal fight with you? Did they serve you first? If yes, then unfortunately you’re required to come defend yourself in court and prove that you didn’t do whatever the plaintiff accused you of doing.
8. The Plaintiff
Ah the plaintiff. You’re the plaintiff if you have a legal bone to pick with someone because they did you a dirty so you’re bringing them to court. You’ve already filed your case with the court, or perhaps you will when you fill the forms out. If you need help with that, SueYa could help you automatically generate forms for small claims in a fast and easy manner. SueYa can also help you find that elusive defendant to serve, providing many other useful services as well.
As the plaintiff, your job is to prove that the defendant is indeed guilty and you must provide evidence to prove it. The defendant will try to prove you wrong of course, so best to bring your A-game. If you want to know how to best prepare for your case, click here.
The Help When You Need It
Any time that you need help with your small claims case, reach out to us via LiveChat, on the phone at 1-888-SUE-YA-88. Most clients successfully complete their small claims paperwork without issue.
“How Courts Work.” How Courts Work – Getting_started_selfhelp. Judicial Council of California, n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.