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How to Respond to a Summons in CA without a Lawyer

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Okay, in case anyone else wants to know, this is how to respond to a summons in California

without a lawyer (at least in San Diego.) It's a gigantic pain in the a** and if I had known

the right way to do things, it would've been a lot easier.

Here's what I went through today:

I attempted to research the correct way to do an answer and I typed one up on my

computer and printed it out, my husband and I signed it and I made three copies (this was

a mistake and you'll find out why in a minute)

I drove to the court to file it. Because of traffic, I didn't get there until 30 minutes before

they closed (I thought I would have plenty of time. I was wrong)

I went to the civil court clerk counter and said that I needed to file my answer. The guy

behind the counter said that I wasn't allowed to type up my answer on the computer and

had to fill out their special form by hand.

So, I went to the forms counter and got the form and then got back in line. I ended up

having to talk to a different person this time and asked how to fill out the form. She said

that she wasn't allowed to tell me and that I had to go fill it out and then go pay 50 cents at

the copy counter for the copy lady to make a copy.

I sat down and filled out the form (copying word for word from the answer that I carefully

researched and typed.) Then I went down to make the copy (at this point I've only got 5

minutes before the place closes.) I hand the lady a dollar to pay for the copy and she sends

me over to the cashier while she makes the copy.

I go over to the cashier (I've got about 2 minutes to go at this point) As I'm paying for my

copy, I ask the lady if I need to pay a fee for filing the answer and if I do, do I need pay her

or do I need to pay the clerk. She tells me that I need to pay her if I'm paying in cash but if

I'm paying with a check, I can just give it to the clerk (and it's a good thing that I'm paying

with a check because if I were paying with cash I would need to go file the form with the

clerk and then pay the cashier who assured me that she wouldn't be there when I got


I go and get back in line. The clerk looks over my answer, types the case number into the

computer and and says, "Wait a minute, your name isn't on this case. Only your husband's

name is. The answer needs to be from him." And I say, "But the summons was to both of

us!" And she says, "Hang on" and runs off. I stand there and wait.

She comes back a couple of minutes later and says that both of us are indeed on the case

except he needs to sign the answer too. I say, "but he's in San Bernardino right now!"

(which is true and it's 70 miles away.) She says, "Hang on" and runs off again. I stand

there and wait.

A couple minutes later, she comes back and says that I can sign it for him (I have no idea if

that was legal but at this point I don't care.) So I sign the for him and pay the fee ($115 per

person so $230 total - ouch!)

Then she gives me a copy of my answer for myself and a copy to send to Discover's lawyer

and a "proof of service" form and she tells me that someone not involved in the case has to

mail the answer to Discover's lawyer for me and then fill out the form and send it back to

the court. (What a giant pain!)

So, I had someone mail it for me which was totally embarrassing and a huge pain.

Well, that's how it's done in case anyone else needs to know in the future.

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Sorry the experience was so painful. I hope it makes you feel better to know that this stuff happens to lawyers too. Some new court rule gets adopted and the clerk won't accept your papers for filing.

One VERY good resource for people in California is Weil and Brown's "Civil Procedure Before Trial". You will find it in the library in just about every courthouse. It explains everything in such a simple manner that even lawyers can understand it.

Good luck with your case.

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I just filed my answer and i must say im extremely greatful that I was able to find a paralegal to type the documents for me.

Ill explain more in my thread. Im sorry you had such a bad experience today, but just know that just by filing the answer and not defaulting, you are in a much better bargaining position when it comes time to strike a settlement.

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I would try sending the lawyer a settlement offer letter on your part. This will score some points with the judge.

I was in the same situation and now I have a judgment.

So, I would get some legal advice, and be prepared to settle or keep from getting a judgement: Use dealy tactics,,, blah, blah,blah. Also, be ready to appeal, you only have 6 months.

Once you get a judgement your ... ! So, do your homework. Remember, you are up against a lawyer, and you are no match for a lawyer. Also, I've read that judges don't like people representing them selves in Municipal or Superior court.

Hey, what are the rules if you get one of those intern judges, can you delay?

Can you counter sue.

... What your position on this case. I'm kind of in the same boat with CITIBANK, they got a judgement. And, when I'm ready, which will be after round 2 of my disputes. I'm going to counter sue in Superior Court, They could not validate it.

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