Civil Claims

Seeking Small Claims:
The Magistrate Court is also referred to as small claims court. This is filed in attempt to collect debt or property you feel is owed to you. You can file a claim for which you are seeking $15,000 or less. This limit applies to both the claim of the plaintiff and counterclaim of the defendant (if there would be a counterclaim). Interest and court costs do not affect the jurisdictional amount.

Authority of the Court:
The Magistrate Court can not issue an injunction or order that would make a party take action to "fix" something. The Magistrate Court has the authority to give a monetary judgement but does not have the authority to make a party repair items or return property.

Jurisdiction of the Court:
The Magistrate Court hears cases of plaintiffs who file against defendants who also are residents of the same county. If you are filing against someone who lives in another county, you will not be able to file in Emanuel County. You will have to seek assistance from the county where the defendant lives.

Refiling or Transferring Cases:
If you have already filed in the wrong county, the case can be transferred to the appropriate court. An order is signed by the judge to have the case transferred, however, you will have to pay $50 to have the defendant served in the county it is being transferred to.

Serving the Defendant

Service Times & Locations:
Once a civil case has been filed, the task begins to serve the defendant. A defendant can be served at their residence or place of employment if it is in this county.

Possible Reasons for Delay:
Service times varies as some defendants can be quickly served, but others may take several months to serve. It is your responsibility as the plaintiff to provide an accurate address or location of service to the court.

Filing an Answer:
Once the defendant is served, they have a total of 45 days to file an answer. When they file their answer a court date will be set and you be notified by mail.


If you have a witness who will come without a subpoena, you can bring that witness.

Purchasing Subpoenas:
On the day of court, bring every piece of evidence you have that supports your claim. Subpoenas may be purchased once you receive your court date. Be mindful that we can not guarantee that subpoenas will be served if you wait too late before purchasing one. Subpoenas must be purchased 10 days prior to your hearing date.