Have you seen Judge Judy's show?
Yup! I guiltily admit I have watched quite a few of Judge Judy's shows. So given a chance to visit a small claims court in New Jersey, a few of those spicy court cases churned around my mind and I didn't want to miss watching a few of them live. No! No! I was not lucky enough to sit through the show. What happened was that hubby & friends' previous landlord decided conveniently to blame them for not getting a new tenant in time, and charged an extra month's rent by framing some interesting stories of his own. Unwilling to even to accept our calls, we had no choice but to drag him to small claim's court.
$3000 is the maximum amount you can claim at such a place, and hiring an attorney can turn out to be super silly cost wise. So we turned lawyers, arranged valid proofs, witnesses, filed a case and got ready for D-day. Now, I was eagerly waiting for this 'larger than life' Judge Judy character to appear and voila! Judge Costello was brilliant! An impressive and majestic lady with sharp wits and cool authority. Don't really know whats with the 'glasses waiting to fall down your nose' style with her as well (maybe its Judge thing), but overall it worked!
It turns out our defendant had 7 cases pending against him since 2004!!! Every defendant and plaintiff has to go through a state authorized mediator initially who helps in discussing the case to resolve it out of court. Our lucky lucky stars, the mediator was so convinced that we would win, that the landlord panicked and agreed to pay up the money, even before we went in front of the judge!! :) From just as a wild thought of going to court, none of us expected the issue to get resolved this way.
We were out of court pretty soon (that is in 3 hours, apparently it takes the whole day). Alas, I watched only a few cases, that too darn boring ones. I was expecting a wild raucous! Judge Judy, waiting to come to your show! ;)