Hearing Information

Going to a Hearing
The information below should provide both the plaintiff and the defendant with basic procedures in the preparation of their civil case. In addition, the parties may view a videotape explaining basic procedures of court. Viewing of this video is strongly urged by the court if you are a pro se party (not represented by an attorney). Please contact our office to obtain availability of video viewing.

It is illegal for the clerks or the judge to give you legal advice. If you should need legal advice, please see an attorney. You may represent yourself in Magistrate Court or you may hire an attorney to represent you. If you represent yourself, you are responsible for knowing the law, the rules of this court, the procedures of this court, and the rules of evidence. In some cases, you may need to seek the advice of an attorney to determine which evidence to introduce. It is illegal for the judge or any of the court’s employees to tell you what to introduce or how to try your case.
  1. Hearing Preparation
  2. Prior to the Hearing
  3. Appeals
Preparing for the Hearing
Please do not ask to talk to the judge. It is unlawful for a judge to discuss a case unless both plaintiff and defendant are present, as this is ex parte communication.

Address Change
If you should move, it is your responsibility to inform the court, in writing, of your new address. The court is not responsible for parties who do not receive their hearing notice because they did not inform the court of a new address. The court may issue a default judgment against a defendant, who does not appear at the hearing. If the plaintiff fails to appear, the court may dismiss the case.

Evidence
The plaintiff must prove the defendant is indebted to the plaintiff, and must also prove the exact amount of that liability. The Magistrate Court is required to apply “the Rules of Evidence” found under Title 24 of the Official Code of Georgia. The court will not accept estimates, letters, or statements which are considered “hearsay” for the purpose of proving damages. This means that if the person who wrote the letter or statement is not at the hearing to testify, the document will not be admissible. The party introducing such evidence must have the maker of these writings in court, to verify the writing so that the other party can cross examine (question) that person. Just as you may not introduce a writing without its maker in court, you cannot tell the court what someone said who is not in court at the hearing.

Documentation
You should gather all of your documents (receipts, warranties, etc.) and organize them before the hearing. You will need to notify your witnesses of your court date. The court is not responsible for witnesses who do not show up at the hearing unless the court subpoenaed that witness. You may ask the court to subpoena witnesses for their appearance. To do this you must provide the court, in writing, the witness(es) name(s), address(es) and phone number(s). There is a $10 service fee to subpoena a witness in the Lowndes County area. For witness(es) outside the Lowndes County area, please contact the court for procedures and costs.

Attorneys
If you decide to hire an attorney after filing your claim, make sure the attorney files a Notice of Appearance with the Court in advance and not on the day of the hearing. If such notice is not filed, the Court may refuse to allow the attorney to represent you. If you chose to hire an attorney please do so as soon as possible. Waiting until the last minute puts everyone at a disadvantage.