Talking to the Judge or Prosecutor
How to Handle a Small Claims Case
Filing a Small Claim Complaint
Collecting on an Awarded Judgment
Does the Judge perform marriage ceremonies?
Yes. The Judge will perform a marriage ceremony for you either at the Vermilion Municipal Courthouse or at your chosen location if it is in the Vermilion Municipal jurisdiction. Call the Vermilion Municipal Court to speak with the clerk and discuss your ceremony preferences, and schedule an appointment for the ceremony. You must obtain your marriage license (from the Probate Court) prior to the scheduled marriage ceremony and have it with you on the day of the marriage. The Judge does not accept gratuities for this service.
I was just called for Jury Duty and don't want to serve. How can I get released from this commitment?
Jury duty is a privilege, not a chore, and it is important that the Court have citizens who are willing to serve on juries. However, the Judge MAY excuse someone from jury duty under certain circumstances:
The person is physically unable to serve;
The person is contending with a serious illness in the immediate family;
The person has served as a juror within the last year in a county court of record;
The person will not physically be in the jurisdiction during the time of trial.
If you have circumstances not among those listed above which you believe could create serious complications and make you unable to serve as a juror, please contact the Court.
I was called for jury duty and don't want to take the time out from raising my children at home to perform this service. Can my children come to court with me?
Most times, jurors are given ample notice of a jury trial and have the opportunity to make child care arrangements for small children. There are no facilities in the Vermilion Municipal Court for child care, and therefore it is unwise to attempt to bring small children with you to court on the day of a trial.
Can I elect to serve my fine and court costs out through community service?
Court costs cannot be eradicated through community service and must be paid directly to the court at the completion of your case. The Judge may order that you perform community service instead of, or IN ADDITION TO a fine. The choice is the Court's, not the Defendant's.
If I can't pay my fine and court costs on time, can I get an extension?
If a situation arises that creates problems in prompt payment, call the court and ask for an extension. The clerks will review your request with the Judge and contact you regarding your request.
Does the court accept credit cards as payment on fines?
Yes. You may give the clerks your credit card (VISA & MasterCard only, please) to pay your fines on the day your case is settled.
Can I make an appointment to talk to the Judge about my case?
The Judge does not speak to anyone concerning cases pending in the court except on scheduled pretrial, trial or hearing dates. Generally, the Judge will speak only to the attorneys involved in the case, or only to the parties directly involved in a case if there are not attorneys.
How can I get to see the Prosecutor?
Please call (440) 204-2462
What is an eviction?
An eviction, also called Forcible Entry and Detainer Action, is a court action filed to retake possession of rental property. Ohio law requires that a hearing be held in eviction cases to determine whether the landlord or the tenant has the right to have possession of the rental property. If the landlord's complaint also asks the Court for money damages, a second hearing may be set by the Court to determine in money is owed to either party.
A sample eviction complaint can be found on the forms section of this web site.
Where is the Court located?
The Court is located at 687 Decatur Street in Vermilion, Ohio. The building is located at the corner of Liberty Avenue and Decatur Street. Click here for a map.
How do I file a Small Claim Complaint?
Small Claim Complaint forms may be obtained at the Court. The filing fee is $50.00. When the case is filed it will be numbered and set for hearing in approximately 30 days. After the case is processed, you will receive a copy with the hearing date and time, along with your receipt.
How do I collect on a judgment I was awarded?
The Court is not a collection agency and cannot collect a judgment for you. There are procedures you can take through the Court yourself (i.e. wage garnishments, bank account attachments, etc.) to collect on a judgment. These procedures are not always successful.
1. What is a Small Claims Case?
Small Claims Court is a proceeding in which civil claims up to $6000.00 are resolved in an informal manner, usually without an attorney. The cases are scheduled quickly and the cost to bring such a case to court is inexpensive.
2. Who are the parties in a Small Claims Case?
The parties are Plaintiff(s)-the person or company who started the lawsuit, and the Defendant(s)-the person or company sued by the Plaintiff. Small claims laws permit use of a less formal procedure, but do not relax the legal requirements to properly and correctly identify the parties. It is the Plaintiff's responsibility to name the Defendant correctly. If you name the wrong Defendant, the Court may dismiss the case and you would have to start the process over.
3. How is a Small Claims Case started?
The clerks in the court office can provide you with the forms you need to start a small claims case.
4. What does the Court Clerk do?
A court clerk can answer general questions about the Court, give you information from your case file, provide information on the status of your case and explain the fees involved and court dates. However, a clerk cannot give a legal opinion or give legal advice, withhold information on the case, tell you how to fill out the forms, recommend a specific attorney, talk to the Judge about your case or allow you to talk to the Judge alone.
5. What happens when I come to Court?
When you come to court, there will usually be a lot of other people there. When the Judge calls your name, go to the front of the courtroom. A small claims case can last from 15-20 minutes to more than an hour. Some cases can go much longer. You should be prepared to wait in the courtroom if the cases heard prior to yours take longer than anticipated.
To prepare your case, you should have all of your witnesses and evidence (e.g. photographs, bills, receipts, contracts, estimates, etc.) available and ready to present to the court on the day of the trial. The court will not consider evidence that you say is available but have forgotten to bring with you. It is helpful to utilize a list of evidence that you want to present and to make a notation on the list as you present each item to the Judge as evidence. You should decide ahead of time the main points or your case and you should stick to those points when telling your side of the story. As you cover each point, present the evidence that supports that point. A written outline of those points, in chronological order, will help you stay focused on your case. However, you should not write out everything you want to say.
When it is your turn to present your case, remain calm and focused. The first thing you need to say is why you are there, how you were affected by what the other side did, why it is their fault and not yours. Tell the Judge what happened and in the order it happened. Present enough information to the court to make your position clear but do not go into such detail that your point is lost. If the Judge needs to clarify a detail, they may ask you questions about your testimony. You should also think about the issues the other side may bring up in court and you should think about your answers to those issues.
In addition to written evidence, you should also bring any witnesses who have knowledge of the facts and support your side of the story. People who saw the event or who have a special knowledge of the issues should be in the courtroom when your case is called if you plan to use them as a witness. For example, the neighbor who saw the broken fence, or a repairman who worked on the damaged house, should be in the courtroom to testify. You should make sure, in advance, that your witnesses actually support your side of the case. All witnesses should present themselves and their testimony in an objective and professional manner.
If no witnesses or written evidence are available, the Judge will listen to both sides and make a decision based on the evidence and testimony presented and the credibility of the parties. A written outline of your case will make it easier for the court to follow your presentation of evidence. If you do not speak English, you are responsible for supplying an interpreter. If you have difficulty speaking English, you should consider bringing someone else with you to help you communicate with the court more effectively. You may want to practice your courtroom presentation in front of a mirror or another person prior to coming to court. this will make you feel more comfortable in making your presentation. Remember that the court wants to hear your side of the case in as professional and unemotional a manner as possible.
After the court has made its decision, you should leave the courtroom quietly to allow the court to hear the next case.
6. If I win how do I collect?
There are various ways to collect judgments but the most common are garnishment of bank accounts and garnishment of wages. The Clerk's Office has the necessary forms to complete to assist you in the process.
7. If I lose, can I appeal?
The Rules of Appellate Procedure set forth the information on how to file an appeal of your decision. Generally speaking, all appeals must be filed within thirty (30) days after the court makes its judgment.