Small Claims

Resource Guide

Small claims cases are characterized by smaller dollar amounts in controversy and simplified procedures; pretrial activity is often limited and disputes tend to be straightforward, with trials themselves tending to be brief. Due to the volume and number of pro se cases that are heard at this level, it is important that the courts responds to the public appropriately by providing the necessary resources and materials  to ensure justice and uphold public trust and confidence of the judicial system.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.


Hannah E. M. Lieberman & Paula Hannaford-Agor Meeting the Challenges of High-Volume Dockets. (2016). ‚ÄčTrends in State Courts. Consumer-debt-collection, landlord/tenant, small claims, and contract cases involving relatively small amounts comprise almost 80% of civil caseloads. This essay examines the challenges associated with high-volume civil dockets and summarizes recommendations to address these challenges and strengthen the integrity of the civil justice system.
Federal Trade Commission Repairing a Broken System: Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration. (2010).

This report summarizes problems and proposes solutions related to consumer debt collection actions including insufficient notice in pleadings and service of process, prosecution of time-barred action, and garnishment of exempt funds.

Court Statistics Project - Civil.

This interactive website offers a look at civil caseload levels through the years. Their resources identify trends and explanations of how to analyze their data.

Rezendes, Michael et al. Dignity Faces a Steamroller. (July 2006). Boston Globe Part two asserts that "the 'people's court' has become the collectors' court," in that small claims courts ignore the rights of defendants in favor of collection agencies and businesses. 
Rezendes, Michael et al. No Mercy for Consumers. (July 2006). Boston Globe Part one illustrates the hardships suffered by debtors, and notes that defendants often do not receive notice because courts provide outdated contact information to plaintiffs.
Goerdt, John. Small Claims and Traffic Courts. (1992). 199 pages.

This study examines case management procedures, case characteristics, and outcomes in 12 urban jurisdictions. It is the first study to describe and compare the procedures, caseload size, case characteristics, case outcomes, and pace of litigation in traffic cases across several large urban jurisdictions from a variety of states.

Ruhnka, John, Steven Weller and John Martin. Small Claims Courts: A National Examination. (1978). 244 pages.

This seminal work presents the findings of a detailed two-year study of 15 small claims courts. It discusses the health of these institutions, as well as the pros and cons of potential reforms to them.

Small Claims Frequently Asked Questions. (1992). Hartford: State of Connecticut, Judicial Branch, Superior Court This informational pamphlet is designed to inform both plaintiffs and defendants on the small claims process in Connecticut.