Outcome of Yesterday's Small Claims Hearing

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I had my day (somewhat) in court yesterday. I was hoping the CA’s attorney wouldn’t show and I’d luck out and win by default, but no such luck. He was there (and seemed like a real A-hole) and because he’d filed a couple of motions, the Judge only decided on those yesterday.

First off, I REALLY liked the Judge. She was VERY cool and seemed pro-consumer and totally unimpressed with the attorney. In fact, she seemed downright irritated with him and spoke to him rather cynically. I loved every minute of it!!

She also seemed to be impressed with the fact that I’d brought all of my documentation but she did urge us to seek counsel since instead of small claims, because I’d filed for damages of $5K, we would instead be in large claims court and the rules weren’t as relaxed.

What When On Yesterday:

Motion to Dismiss-Defendant claimed that my vague Complaint didn’t conform to Maryland law. I told the Judge that I’d made that error because the form didn’t allow much explanation and I thought a summary of the charges would suffice. I told her that I had a detailed Complaint available for her and the Defendant. Judge denied his motion. :D

Motion for Protective Order-Defendant says that because I’d sent him Interrogatories in an untimely manner, could they be excused from answering. Judge denied his motion. :D

The Defendant also stated that they’d like to file a countersuit. The Judge rather irritatingly asked him, “And just when did you plan to have them served”. She was thinking my thoughts exactly; that they were filing this suit in retaliation for my Complaint against them. (Rather than file a Motion to Dismiss, I think I’ll wait until the trial date and “surprise” the CA with my supporting evidence that says they can’t countersue over the same debt.)

That’s basically it. My only wonder now is should I seek counsel like the Judge advised or do some major reading up on the Local Rules for the District of Maryland or continue pro se??? Is there really a possibility that I could screw up in a major way?

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Well, you *CAN* do it pro se. That's how I've always done it, and I'm undefeated so far...but the judge is right: The higher up the court chain you go, the more pronounced the procedures and "tricks of the trade" are. If you win in court, the defendant has to pay all your legal fees on top of the damages you're awarded, so it won't really cost you anything in the end to hire an attorney on a contingency basis. The only problem you'll run into is that you might find that you know more about credit law than any other attorney in your area. Tis the problem I ran into down here. Which is ok I guess--I've found that judges are usually a little forgiving of my lack of procedural knowledge and needing to tell the court that I don't speak Latin and would prefer all legal mumbo jumbo jargon be spoken in plain English when put up against the actual legal/statute knowledge/application and veracity I bring to the table with me.

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Thanks for the responses and great advice.

I did locate several NACA lawyers in my area and am thinking of going over my case with one. While I don't know if I'll need him for trial, I do want to make sure I have all of my ducks in a row.

I do think I have enough knowledge to go it alone. I'll see just how knowledgeable the attorney is. If I have to explain the laws to HIM, I'll take my chances alone.


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