Small Claims Court in Denver County

In Denver County, CO small claims cases are filed in the County Court. Denver County has one District Court that handles small claims, serving different jurisdictions.

Squabble is here to assist you in navigating the small claims court system and filing a claim with ease. We recognize that not everyone is a legal expert, and our goal is to simplify the process for you. This guide will answer your questions about filing claims in the Denver Court System.

Small Claims Court

If you want to file a claim in Small Claims Court for money, property, contract performance, or enforcing a restrictive agreement valued at $7,500 or less. If your claim exceeds $7,500 but you still prefer Small Claims Court, you can choose to limit your claim to $7,500 by giving up the excess amount. Remember, you can't split one claim into multiple cases.

To file, at least one party involved must live, work, have a business office, study at a college in Denver County, or own rental property there related to the claim.

The starting document for Small Claims Court is called a Notice, Claim and Summons to Appear for Trial. Since you'll need several copies, it's crucial to carefully follow the instructions provided by the court to create this document.

Cases Handled

The Small Claims Division handles cases where individuals, partnerships, corporations, or sole proprietors sue each other for monetary damages. Reasons may include, but are not limited to:

  • Tenant/Landlord Dispute
  • Personal Injury
  • Stolen Property
  • Damaged Property
  • Debt Collection
  • Auto Repair
  • Poor Construction
  • Product Defect
  • Broken Contracts or Verbal Promises

Judicial Officer

Your case will be heard by either a Magistrate or a Judge. If you prefer a Judge to hear your case instead of a Magistrate, you must submit an Objection to a Magistrate Hearing Case at least seven days before the trial date stated in your notice. It's important to note that all the rules and procedures of the Small Claims Court will still be followed regardless of whether a Magistrate or a Judge presides over your case.

Attorney

If the defendant(s) wish(es) to have legal representation, they or their attorney must file a Notice of Representation by Attorney at least seven days before the trial date listed in the notice. Once this notice is filed, the plaintiff(s) may also choose to have representation by an attorney. If one party is already represented by an attorney, the other party can also have an attorney without needing to file a notice.

It's important to remember that even if attorneys are involved in the case, all the rules and procedures of the Small Claims Court still apply.

Interpreter

If you or a witness needs a language interpreter for your hearings, you can request one online or contact the Clerk’s Office in Room 135 of the City and County Building at 720-865-7840. You can also inform the courtroom clerk on your appearance date.

During the hearing, the language interpreter can only interpret conversations between parties and discussions immediately before or after the hearing. They are strictly prohibited from offering legal advice or any other services not directly related to interpreting. Additionally, interpreters must adhere to their Code of Professional Responsibility and may not engage in any activities that could violate this code.

Subpoenas

If you need witnesses to appear or bring documents for your trial, you can request a subpoena from the clerk at Room 135 of the City and County Building. You have the option to download a subpoena form beforehand. It's your responsibility to fill out all necessary details on the subpoena and ensure it is issued and served.

Subpoenas must be personally served by someone over 18 years old who is not involved in the case and understands the Rules of Service. Along with the subpoena, you must include a check to cover witness fees and mileage for any witnesses being served. This ensures that witnesses are compensated for their time and travel expenses related to attending your trial.

Serving the Defendant

When serving legal papers in a Small Claims Court case, it's crucial to follow these guidelines:

  1. Defendant's Copy: Part 2 of the form must be served on the Defendant. If there are multiple Defendants, each must receive a separate copy. Photocopies are acceptable, but ensure pages 3, 4, and 5 are included if serving a photocopy.
  2. Who Can Serve: Service must be done by someone over 18 years old who is not involved in the case, or by the Sheriff. Plaintiffs themselves are not permitted to serve the papers. Certified mail can be an option, but only if arranged through the clerk’s office, with costs covered by the Plaintiff.
  3. Affidavit of Service: For each Defendant served, a fully completed Affidavit of Service (Part 4) must be filed. This document verifies that the papers were properly served.
  4. Professional Service: If desired, the Sheriff’s office or professional process servers can handle the service. They are experienced in completing the necessary affidavits of service correctly.

Adhering to these rules ensures that legal papers are served correctly and in compliance with the Small Claims Court procedures. This helps maintain fairness and clarity in the legal process.

Counterclaim

When preparing the Answer and Counterclaim in response to a Small Claims Court case:

  1. Completion of Part 2: The Defendant(s) should fill out Part 2 of the Notice, Claim and Summons to Appear for Trial before the scheduled trial date.
  2. Content of Response: The response can be as brief or detailed as necessary, with additional pages attached if needed. It should provide reasons why the claim is disputed.
  3. Including a Counterclaim: If the Defendant(s) have a claim against any of the Plaintiff(s), this can be included in the response. The same guidelines used for completing the Plaintiff’s original claim apply here.
  4. Related to Original Claim: The counterclaim must arise from the same situation that led to the Plaintiff’s original claim, or it could be forfeited.
  5. Exceeding $7,500: If the counterclaim exceeds $7,500, the Defendant(s) can choose to move the case to County or District Court.
  6. Options and Signatures: The form includes checkboxes indicating the options related to the counterclaim. Ensure the appropriate box is checked, and sign and date the response and/or counterclaim.
  7. Filing Deadline: Everything must be filed and submitted on or before the trial date as scheduled.

Filing Cost

Filing Fees for Notice, Claim, and Summons to Appear for Trial:

Plaintiff’s Claim:

  • Up to $500.00: $31.00
  • $500.01 to $7,500.00: $55.00

Defendant’s Response (without counterclaim):

  • Up to $500.00: $26.00
  • $500.01 to $7,500.00: $41.00

Defendant’s Response (with counterclaim):

  • Counterclaim up to $500.00: $31.00
  • $500.01 to $7,500.00: $46.00

Miscellaneous Fees:

  • Certificate of Dismissal: $20.00
  • Certificate of Satisfaction: $20.00
  • Certification Fee: $20.00
  • Certified Mail: $15.00
  • Contempt Citation: $70.00
  • Copies (per page): $0.75
  • District Court Appellant Fee: $163.00
  • District Court Appellee Fee: $158.00
  • Transcript of Judgment: $25.00
  • Writ of Garnishment: $45.00

These fees are current as of the last update and may be subject to change. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, it's advisable to contact the Denver County Court directly or visit their official website.

Preparing for the Court Trial

To prepare for your Small Claims Court trial, follow these steps:

  1. Attend a Small Claims Trial: It's optional but attending a trial beforehand (Monday through Thursday at 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. in courtroom 104) can help you feel more prepared.

  2. Gather Evidence: Organize and label all exhibits such as documents, photographs, charts, and receipts that support your case. Make copies for both the other party and the court. If you need the court to make copies for you, be aware that copy fees may apply.

  3. Prepare Witnesses: Decide if you need witnesses and ensure they are willing to appear voluntarily. If necessary, serve them with a subpoena to require their attendance.

  4. Highlight Key Issues: Before your court appearance, outline the main points you want to emphasize. During the trial, take notes on what others say, especially when they are testifying.

Remember to be punctual for your trial, turn off your cell phone in the courtroom, and show respect to everyone involved. There may also be an opportunity for you to discuss settlement with the other party before the trial starts, which could potentially resolve your claim without the need for a full trial.

After the Court Trial

After your court trial, here are the potential outcomes:

  1. Judgment and Amount: The Magistrate or Judge will decide who wins the case based on the facts presented and may determine the amount of money to be awarded.
  2. Award of Costs: The winning party may also receive an award of costs, which can include filing fees, service fees, and witness fees if applicable.
  3. Collection Responsibility: If you are awarded a judgment, it is your responsibility to collect the money owed. The court cannot assist you in this process.
  4. Motion & Order for Interrogatories: In some cases, the court may provide the person who owes you money with a Motion & Order for Interrogatories. These interrogatories help identify the debtor's employers, bank accounts, and property, which can aid in collecting the judgment.

It's important to be aware of these potential outcomes and responsibilities following your court trial in Small Claims Court.

Mediation

In Small Claims Court, you may have the option of mediation either voluntarily or as directed on the day of your trial. Mediation involves a neutral third party who assists both parties in reaching a mutually agreeable solution.

Here’s what you should know about mediation:

  • Purpose: The mediator helps facilitate discussions between you and the other party to find a resolution both sides can accept.
  • Preparation: Bring all relevant legal documents, financial records, and any other information related to your dispute to the mediation session.

Mediation can be a constructive way to resolve issues without going through a full court trial. It allows both parties to actively participate in finding a solution that meets their needs.

Mediation Outcomes

In mediation, there are several potential outcomes:

  1. Stipulation/Agreement: You and the other party may reach a mutual agreement or stipulation. You'll need to prepare a Stipulation form outlining the terms of the agreement. Both parties must sign the form and submit it to the court.
  2. Agreement on Debt Owed: If the dispute is about money owed and the parties agree on the amount and payment terms, you'll prepare a Stipulation form detailing these agreements. Both parties sign the form and provide it to the court. If immediate payment is made, the case can be dismissed.
  3. No Agreement Reached: If mediation does not lead to an agreement or stipulation, then the case proceeds to a court trial as originally scheduled. Mediation provides an opportunity for parties to resolve their issues outside of court through mutual understanding and agreement.

Settlement

If you reach a settlement in your case before the court date, here’s what you need to do:

  1. File a Notice of Dismissal: The Plaintiff (the party who initiated the case) must file a written Notice of Dismissal with the Court. You can do this in person at room 135 of the City and County Building, by mail, or by appearing on the scheduled court date and informing the clerk in the courtroom of the dismissal.
  2. Written Notice: Ensure that the Notice of Dismissal is in writing and clearly states that the case is being dismissed due to the settlement agreement reached between the parties.

Appeal

An appeal in Denver County Court involves requesting the Denver District Court to review a decision made by the lower court. Here’s what you should know:

  1. Nature of Appeal: An appeal is not a new trial. Instead, the Denver District Court examines the record of what transpired in Denver County Court to determine if legal errors occurred that affected the outcome of the trial.
  2. Appeal Outcome: To succeed in an appeal, the appellant must demonstrate to the District Court that the County Court made mistakes that impacted the fairness of the trial. The standard isn't perfection but ensuring a fair process.
  3. Legal Errors: Unless significant errors occurred that deprived the appellant of a fair trial, minor mistakes may not be sufficient for the District Court to overturn the County Court's decision.
  4. Result of Winning an Appeal: Winning an appeal means the Denver District Court will reverse or modify the County Court's decision. The case may then be sent back to the County Court for another trial or further proceedings.

Collecting your Judgment

After the court enters a Judgment Order, here are the options available to the party awarded money, known as the "judgment creditor," and the party who owes money, known as the "judgment debtor":

  1. Enforcement of Judgment: The judgment creditor can take steps to enforce the judgment. This might involve garnishing wages, placing liens on property, or executing a bank levy.
  2. Collection Timeline: A money judgment remains enforceable for six years from the date it is entered by the court.
  3. Court's Role: It's important to note that the court does not undertake the collection of the money judgment on behalf of the judgment creditor. Instead, it is the responsibility of the judgment creditor to pursue collection through legal means.

Steps to Collecting your Judgment

To effectively collect a judgment awarded by the court, follow these steps:

  1. Request Payment: Begin by requesting payment from the judgment debtor, preferably in writing. Clearly state the amount owed and provide details on how and where payment should be made.
  2. If Payment is Refused: If the judgment debtor refuses to pay and you are unaware of their employment details, bank accounts, or property ownership, you can file a Motion and Order for Interrogatories with the Court.
  3. Interrogatories Process: The Court will issue an order requiring the judgment debtor to truthfully answer specific questions. These interrogatories aim to uncover information such as the debtor's employer's name, pay dates, location of bank accounts, and any other assets they may own.
  4. Useful Information: The answers provided in the interrogatories can be invaluable in facilitating the collection of your judgment. This information helps identify potential sources from which the owed amount can be recovered.
  5. Court's Role: It's important to note that the Court facilitates the process by ordering the judgment debtor to respond to interrogatories but does not guarantee payment. It remains the responsibility of the judgment creditor to pursue further legal avenues if necessary.

Writ of Garnishment

When seeking a Writ of Garnishment to enforce a judgment, consider the following options based on your situation:

  1. Writ of Continuing Garnishment: This involves withholding the earnings of a judgment debtor over successive pay periods to satisfy the judgment debt. It's applicable when the debtor earns regular income.
  2. Writ of Garnishment with Notice of Exemption & Pending Levy: This writ is used to withhold an individual's personal property, excluding earnings, to satisfy the judgment debt. It includes notifying the debtor of their rights to claim exemptions and informs them of a potential levy on their property.
  3. Writ of Garnishment – Judgment Debtor other than Natural Person: This writ applies to entities such as corporations or limited partnerships (not natural persons). It allows for the withholding of their personal property to satisfy the judgment debt.

Each type of writ serves specific purposes depending on whether the debtor is an individual with earnings, an individual with non-earnings personal property, or a non-individual entity. Understanding these options helps in choosing the appropriate garnishment method to effectively collect the judgment debt.

Lien Against Property

To request a lien against property after obtaining a judgment in Small Claims Court, follow these steps:

  1. Complete the Transcript of Judgment Form: Fill out the Transcript of Judgment form provided by the court. This document summarizes the details of the judgment.
  2. File the Form with the Court: Submit the completed Transcript of Judgment form to the court where the judgment was issued. You will need to pay the required filing fee to proceed.
  3. Receive the Transcript of Judgment: Once filed and the fee is paid, the court clerk will issue the Transcript of Judgment to you. This document is essential for placing a lien on the debtor's property.
  4. Record the Lien with the County Clerk and Recorder: Take the issued Transcript of Judgment to the County Clerk and Recorder's office in the county where the judgment debtor owns property. They will record the lien against the debtor's property.
  5. Lien Duration: The lien remains in effect for 6 years from the date it is recorded with the County Clerk and Recorder. During this period, it secures your right to collect the judgment from the debtor's property.

Following these steps allows you to legally place a lien on the judgment debtor's property, providing a mechanism to potentially recover the owed amount through the sale of the property if necessary.

After your Collect the Judgment

After successfully collecting your judgment in Small Claims Court, follow these important steps:

  1. Complete a Satisfaction of Judgment: Fill out the Satisfaction of Judgment form, indicating that the judgment debt has been paid in full. This form needs to be filed with the same court where you obtained the judgment.
  2. File the Satisfaction of Judgment: Submit the completed Satisfaction of Judgment form to the court. This officially informs the court that the debt has been satisfied.
  3. Notify the Judgment Debtor: Mail a copy of the Satisfaction of Judgment to the judgment debtor. This serves as formal confirmation that their debt obligation has been fulfilled.
  4. Release Lien on Property: If you placed a lien on property owned by the judgment debtor, notify the County Clerk and Recorder's office where the lien was recorded to release it. This step is crucial to clear the debtor's property title from any encumbrances related to your judgment.
  5. Additional Resources: For more detailed guidance, refer to the Colorado Rules of County Court Civil Procedure, specifically Rule 369 and Rule 403, which provide specific instructions and requirements related to satisfaction of judgments and liens.

Following these steps ensures that all legal requirements are met after successfully collecting your judgment in Small Claims Court, concluding the matter efficiently and in compliance with court procedures.

Courthouse Location:

Denver County Court

1437 Bannock Street, Room 135
Denver, CO 80202
(720) 865-7840
https://www.denvercountycourt.org/small-claims-2/

BUILDING HOURS

  • Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except court holidays.

Let Squabble Help You With Your Small Claim at Denver County

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