Law Office Of Paul DePetris
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Difference Between New Jersey Small Claims and Special Civil

Read below to learn more about this topic.

Or, to receive a no cost phone consultation about what the Law Office of Paul DePetris might be able to do for you, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send an email to Mr. DePetris at paul@newjerseylemon.com.

WHAT IS THE SPECIAL CIVIL PART?
The New Jersey Special Civil Part is a subpart of the Superior Court of New Jersey. In the New Jersey Special Civil Part, disputes involving a limited amount of money -- $15,000 or less – may be heard. The Special Civil Part is a special court of limited jurisdiction, functioning in an expedited manner. The objective of the Special Civil Part is to provide a New Jersey court for pro se litigants that is quick, procedurally simple and relatively inexpensive. The Special Civil Part is a high volume New Jersey court that places substantial demands on the Special Civil judges who sit there. The Special Civil Part has its origins in the New Jersey County District Courts, which was the predecessor to the Special Civil Part. At one time, the New Jersey County District Court was the New Jersey Small Claims Court. However, in 1983, the New Jersey County District Court was abolished by constitutional amendment, and the New Jersey County District Court's limited jurisdiction was transferred to the New Jersey Superior Court. Because New Jersey realized how useful it was to have a New Jersey court of limited monetary jurisdiction with expedited procedures, the concept of the New Jersey County District Court was preserved by court order, which transferred its former jurisdiction as well as its procedures, virtually intact, to a new division of the New Jersey Superior Court called the Special Civil Part. Through this transition, the New Jersey Supreme Court transferred all of the New Jersey District Court's cases, judges, and staff to the newly-created Special Civil Part.

WHAT MATTERS ARE HEARD IN SPECIAL CIVIL COURT?
The Special Civil Court hears the following types of New Jersey cases:
• (1) Civil actions (exclusive of professional malpractice, probate, and matters cognizable in the Family Division or Tax Court) seeking legal relief when the amount in controversy does not exceed $15,000;
• (2) Small claims actions, which are defined as all actions in contract and tort (exclusive of professional malpractice, probate, and matters cognizable in the Family Division or Tax Court) and actions between a landlord and tenant for rent, or money damages, when the amount in dispute, including any applicable penalties, does not exceed, exclusive of costs, the sum of $3,000. Small claims also include actions for the return of all or part of a security deposit when the amount in dispute, including any applicable penalties, does not exceed, exclusive of costs, the sum of $5,000. The Small Claims Section may provide such ancillary equitable relief as may be necessary to effect a complete remedy. Actions in lieu of prerogative writs and actions in which the primary relief sought is equitable in nature are excluded from the Small Claims Section;
• (3) Summary landlord/tenant actions;
• (4) Summary actions for the possession of real property pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:35-1 et seq., where the defendant has no colorable claim of title or possession, or pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:39-1 et seq.;
• (5) Summary proceedings for the collection of statutory penalties not exceeding $15,000 per complaint;
• (6) Municipal court actions, pursuant to R. 7:1, in the counties of Bergen, Hudson and Warren.
 (b) Distinct Negligence Claims. An action for damages resulting from negligence composed of several distinct claims may be brought in the Special Civil Part if the amount recoverable on each claim is within the monetary limit even though the amount recoverable on all claims exceeds that limit.
 (c) Waiver of Excess. Where the amount recoverable on a claim exceeds the monetary limit of the Special Civil Part or the Small Claims Section, the party asserting the claim shall not recover a sum exceeding the limit plus costs and on the entry of judgment shall be deemed to have waived the excess over the applicable limit.

WHAT IS THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT?
The New Jersey Small Claims Section is a subpart of the Special Civil Part court. New Jersey Small Claims cases are handled by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Small Claims Section. A New Jersey Small Claims case is a civil case in which the money sought to be recovered does not exceed $3,000 (or $5,000 if the case involves the return of a rental security deposit). Lawsuits for higher amounts of money must be filed with other New Jersey courts. In cases for damages up to $15,000, the claimant should file in the regular Special Civil Part and in Cases involving damages greater than $15,000, the claimant should file in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Civil Part. There are also exceptions to these rules – not all types of cases are able to be filed in the New Jersey Small Claims Court. For example, if you have a claim involving a family law situation, you may have to file in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part. Also, if you are a landlord who seeks to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, you may have to file your claim in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Landlord Tenant Section. If you file your lawsuit in the New Jersey Small Claims Court, you shall very likely be prevented from recovering more money than $3,000 (or $5,000 if the case involves the return of a rental security deposit). Because the procedures for handling cases in the New Jersey Small Claims Court are relatively easier than in courts deciding cases involving larger sums of money, most lawsuits filed in the New Jersey Small Claims Court move more rapidly through the New Jersey court system than lawsuits filed for larger sums of money.

WHAT IS THE “REGULAR” SPECIAL CIVIL COURT?
Special Civil Part cases that are not landlord tenant or Small Claims cases are typically Special Civil cases that are assigned a New Jersey “DC” case docket number. You can file a Special Civil case as a Special Civil case that is assigned a “DC” docket and not a New Jersey Small Claims case that is assigned an “SC” docket even if you are asking for an amount of money less than $3,000.00 – the limit for most New Jersey Small Claims cases (or $5,000 if the case involves the return of a rental security deposit). The regular Special Civil court has some different procedures and forms from New Jersey Small Claims Court and higher filing fees.

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CASE IS A NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS CASE OR A REGULAR SPECIAL CIVIL CASE?
The New Jersey Special Civil Part hears both New Jersey Small Claims cases and “regular” Special Civil cases. New Jersey Small Claims cases are identified by the number that the New Jersey Small Claims Court assigns to the New Jersey Small Claims case – a number beginning in “SC”. “SC” stands for New Jersey Small Claims Court. Special Civil cases are identified by the number that the Special Civil Court assigns to the Special Civil case – a number beginning in “DC”. “DC” stands for “New Jersey District Court” – the old name for Special Civil Court.

WHAT RULES APPLY TO THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT
The general rules of practice and procedure in the Special Civil Part, including the provisions of R. 1:40-6, shall apply to the New Jersey Small Claims Section except that any authorized officer or employee may prosecute and defend on behalf of a party which is a business entity, whether formally incorporated or not, claims originating with and not held by transfer or assignment to that business entity, provided that such officer or employee is neither a suspended or disbarred attorney nor one who has resigned. This exception shall apply to every action cognizable in the New Jersey Small Claims Section whether or not the New Jersey complaint has been filed in the New Jersey Small Claims Court. Notice in the New Jersey Small Claims Section shall be by summons as provided by R. 6:2-1, and actions in New Jersey Small Claims Court shall be disposed of on the return day unless adjourned by the New Jersey Small Claims Court. Upon the filing of a New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim for a sum in excess of the monetary limit of the New Jersey Small Claims Section, the action shall be transferred to the Special Civil Part proper upon payment by the New Jersey Small Claims defendant of the required fees.

REASON ONE AS TO WHY TO FILE A NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL CASE IN REGULAR SPECIAL CIVIL PART INSTEAD OF IN THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS SECTION
While filing a New Jersey case in Special Civil Part will cost more money than filing a case in New Jersey small claims court, there are advantages to filing cases in Special Civil Part with a “DC” docket number. In New Jersey Small Claims, the Special Civil Court requires an appearance at trial. If a New Jersey Small Claims plaintiff files a New Jersey Small Claims complaint, they or their attorney shall have to show up and the New Jersey Small Claims defendant may never show up. Therefore, in a New Jersey Small Claims case, it is possible you or your attorney shall travel all the way to New Jersey Small Claims court only to find out that the New Jersey defendant didn’t show up. Next, the New Jersey Small Claims plaintiff will have to prepare and file paperwork with the New Jersey Special Civil Court to secure a New Jersey Small Claims Default Judgment. On the other hand, if the New Jersey plaintiff files a case in Special Civil Part, the New Jersey Small Claims defendant must file a Special Civil answer and pay a Special Civil answer filing fee to the Special Civil court and if they are too lazy to do so, the Special Civil Court enters a default and the New Jersey plaintiff can prepare the New Jersey default paperwork at their home or office without having to show up for a New Jersey Special Civil trial. Most Special Civil collection attorneys don’t waste their time filing New Jersey Small Claims cases, since they want to avoid wasting time in New Jersey Small Claims Court when they and their staff can simply handle most or all of the Special Civil case from their office. Also, if you live outside New Jersey, because it is possible that you can get your Special Civil case completed without having to travel to New Jersey for a Special Civil trial, it often makes more sense to file your Special Civil case as a “DC” case instead of as a New Jersey Small Claims case.

REASON TWO AS TO WHY TO FILE A NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL CASE IN REGULAR SPECIAL CIVIL PART INSTEAD OF IN THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS SECTION
Second, in Special Civil Court, a New Jersey Special Civil plaintiff has an opportunity to serve Special Civil interrogatories and other types of Special Civil pretrial requests for information on a Special Civil defendant. Merely showing up to New Jersey Small Claims Court without proof of a New Jersey Small Claims defendant’s liability for your damages or without proof of the amount of your New Jersey Small Claims damages is never a good idea, since Small Claims cases do not prove themselves and New Jersey Small Claims judges don’t prove your case for you! Without securing proof of liability and damages before your New Jersey Small Claims trial, you may doom your New Jersey Small Claims case to failure! Also, if a Special Civil defendant fails to answer the Special Civil interrogatories, the Special Civil plaintiff can secure a Special Civil judgment without having to travel to Special Civil Court for a Special Civil trial. This happens very often, since Special Civil defendants are often unfamiliar with how to properly answer Special Civil interrogatories or they are too lazy to answer Special Civil interrogatories.

REASON THREE AS TO WHY TO FILE A NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL CASE IN REGULAR SPECIAL CIVIL PART INSTEAD OF IN THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS SECTION
Often, a New Jersey Small Claims plaintiff doesn’t even know how much money they deserve to recover in their Special Civil case and they file their New Jersey case as a New Jersey Small Claims case where their damages may be limited to 3,000.00 – the limit for most New Jersey Small Claims cases (or $5,000 if the case involves the return of a rental security deposit). Often these New Jersey Small Claims plaintiffs learn too late that they could have recovered much more money and that they failed to ask for the proper amount by filing in New Jersey Small Claims. For, where the amount recoverable on a claim exceeds the monetary limit of the New Jersey Small Claims Section, the party asserting the claim shall not recover a sum exceeding the limit plus costs and on the entry of the New Jersey Small Claims judgment shall be deemed to have waived the excess over the applicable limit. By filing in New Jersey Special Civil Part and seeking no more than 15,000.00 in damages, the New Jersey Special Civil plaintiff has the flexibility to recover up to 15,000.00 in damages.

CAN I RELY ON NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT PERSONNEL OR NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL COURT PERSONNEL FOR LEGAL ADVICE
New Jersey Special Civil employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a Special Civil judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees. Most New Jersey Special Civil employees are not trained attorneys and therefore, they may not know what advice to give you. Working at the Special Civil Court as a non-judge is not the same as practicing law.

CAN I RELY ON NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL PART FORMS PROVIDED BY THE NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL PART COURT?
The New Jersey Special Civil Part usually provides certain types of Special Civil legal forms to the public and those forms are often very helpful. However, beware relying on New Jersey Special Civil Part forms provided by the New Jersey Special Civil Part court – the forms are often deceptively simple, while Special Civil Part cases often are much more complex than they first appear to be. There is simply no substitute for a competent Special Civil attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey who has experience handling New Jersey Special Civil Part cases. Special Civil forms don’t talk and Special Civil forms and their directions rarely, if ever, cover every possible situation, set of facts or legal issue that may arise in a New Jersey Special Civil Part case. Each New Jersey Special Civil Part case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges. If you can afford a competent New Jersey Special Civil trial attorney, it is best to have the Special Civil attorney prepare your New Jersey Special Civil Part paperwork for you.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR NEW JERSEY CASE?
Let the Law Office of Paul DePetris help you with your New Jersey case. Not all New Jersey cases require you to pay expensive legal fees to get legal help. To receive a no cost phone consultation about what the Law Office of Paul DePetris might be able to do for you, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send an email to Mr. DePetris at paul@newjerseylemon.com.

CAN I HANDLE A NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL CASE MYSELF?
Many people can and do successfully handle New Jersey Special Civil cases, from filing the first paperwork to the collection of a New Jersey Special Civil judgment. However, many other people also make mistakes that lead to the dismissal of their New Jersey Special Civil cases or that result in the entry of a New Jersey Special Civil money judgment against them. The greater the money at stake, the greater the reason to consider using the services of a competent attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey to handle part or all of the New Jersey Special Civil case. The following are reasons to use an attorney to handle part or all of your New Jersey Special Civil case:
• New Jersey Special Civil fees often change
• New Jersey Special Civil rules often change
• New Jersey Special Civil employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a Special Civil judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees
• New Jersey Special Civil Court forms available on websites may not cover every situation you may face in court
• each New Jersey Special Civil case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges
• it is very common for people to file inadequate or incorrect New Jersey Special Civil complaints that result in the New Jersey Special Civil complaints or answers to New Jersey Special Civil complaints being rejected by the New Jersey Special Civil or being dismissed by the New Jersey Special Civil after filing and before or after trial because of procedural deficiencies.
• it is not uncommon for judges to get very frustrated by an unrepresented party’s lack of preparation or ignorance of the facts or law of the New Jersey Special Civil case.
• a court has the power to punish unprepared parties, such as by throwing their New Jersey Special Civil case out of court or limiting what they can present at the New Jersey Special Civil trial.
• New Jersey has many published cases, laws, regulations, court rules and rules of evidence that can be very tricky to understand and that can be used to prevent you from doing much of what you want to do at the New Jersey Special Civil trial.
• it is very common for courts to refuse to allow a party to use or refer to documents or items at the New Jersey Special Civil trial that the person themselves never prepared. Often parties stumble into New Jersey Special Civil with a video, photograph, bill or affidavit or other form of written statement, thinking they are going to use it as proof that they lost money or that they are not responsible for someone else’s damages, only to have a Special Civil judge tell the parties that it is not going to even consider such items or documents.
• without the proper preparation, items and documents may never be considered by the New Jersey Special Civil. Also, if there are any legal issues to be dealt with at the New Jersey Special Civil trial, you must be prepared to argue them, which may require you to refer to court rules, evidence rules, laws, regulations or published cases.
• you cannot show up at the New Jersey Special Civil expecting the judge hearing your New Jersey Special Civil case to explain court rules, evidence rules, court procedure or the details of the law that applies to your New Jersey Special Civil case. The judge hearing your New Jersey Special Civil case is not permitted to give you legal advice.

It is important to remember that even if you have an attorney, you could lose your New Jersey Special Civil case. Hiring an attorney to handle part or all of your New Jersey Special Civil case does not guarantee your success. However, it may provide what is needed to win your New Jersey Special Civil case or to avoid certain mistakes.

DOES THE LAW OFFICE OF PAUL DEPETRIS HAVE EXPERIENCE HANDLING NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL CASES?
Yes. Paul DePetris has performed the following tasks:
• handled New Jersey cases for plaintiffs and defendants across New Jersey, from Bergen County to Cumberland County, including representations of individuals, small businesses and large corporations.
• settled New Jersey cases for plaintiffs and defendants across New Jersey.
• reviewed many New Jersey Special Civil settlement agreements.
• enforced many New Jersey Special Civil settlement agreements.
• provided New Jersey Special Civil pro se parties with New Jersey Special Civil legal advice and prepared New Jersey Special Civil legal forms
• prepared and filed many New Jersey Special Civil complaints
• tried New Jersey Special Civil jury trials
• mediated many New Jersey cases
• argued New Jersey Special Civil motions
• handled New Jersey Special Civil proof hearings
• handled New Jersey Special Civil post judgment collection proceedings

Mr. DePetris has appeared before the Superior Court of New Jersey in the following counties:
Atlantic County Bergen County Burlington County Camden County
Cape May County Cumberland County Essex County Special Gloucester County
Hudson County Mercer County Middlesex County Monmouth County
Morris County Ocean County Passaic County Salem County
Somerset County Sussex County Union County Warren County

IN WHAT NEW JERSEY COUNTIES WILL THE LAW OFFICE OF PAUL DEPETRIS HANDLE NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL CASES?
The Law Office of Paul DePetris offers to handle and help individuals and businesses with New Jersey Special Civil Claims cases in North, Central and Southern New Jersey, including cases in the following New Jersey counties:
Atlantic County Special Civil Bergen County Special Civil Burlington County Special Civil Camden County Special Civil
Cape May County Special Civil Cumberland County Special Civil Essex County Special Civil Gloucester County Special Civil
Hudson County Special Civil Hunterdon County Special Civil Mercer County Special Civil Middlesex County Special Civil
Monmouth County Special Civil Morris County Special Civil Ocean County Special Civil Passaic County Special Civil
Salem County Special Civil Somerset County Special Civil Sussex County Special Civil Union County Special Civil
Warren County Special Civil

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY TO HANDLE MY NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL CASE FROM BEGINNING TO END?
In many situations, the Law Office of Paul DePetris offers alternatives to handling New Jersey Special Civil cases for an hourly fee, such as by offering to handle your New Jersey Special Civil case up to trial for a fixed fee or to help you handle your New Jersey Special Civil case by yourself. Such flexible methods may allow you to keep the amount legal fees you spend on your New Jersey Special Civil case to a fixed sum, while providing you the help you need to handle your New Jersey Special Civil case. For a no obligation phone consultation about what the Firm might be able to do for you, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send an email to Mr. DePetris at paul@newjerseylemon.com.
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