How to Sue Someone in Superior Court
When you sue someone in the upper courts, typically called Superior Court or Circuit Court, you are going to have the experience depicted in this picture. The judge won’t be wearing a wig (well, you never know!), but s/he will certainly have a gavel, wear a robe, and be propped up high so you will feel utterly intimidated because you will be probably ten feet below in the peanut gallery where Plaintiffs and Defendants reside.
DEFINITIONS: SMALL CLAIMS | UPPER CIVIL COURTS
SMALL CLAIMS COURT = ENTRY-LEVEL CIVIL CASES WITHIN A CERTAIN LIMIT
UPPER CIVIL COURTS = CIVIL CASES ABOVE SMALL CLAIMS LIMIT
Each state has a hierarchy of civil courts ranked according to case value. Typically, each state has a Small Claims Court for claims up to their Small Claims limit and one or more courts for cases of higher value than small claims usually called Superior Court or Circuit Court.
🍪 Smart Cookie Tip: Most states use the name Small Claims Court to describe their entry-level court. After that, the names vary for the courts that hear civil cases valued higher than Small Claims, which we refer to collectively on this site as the Upper Civil Courts (as compared to Small Claims).
This page describes the Upper Civil Courts. You’ve probably landed here because Lawsuit Analyzer© determined your case belongs in the Upper Civil Courts. Which Upper Civil Court is right for your dispute is determined by the value of your case and the case value ranges of the state in which you will bring your case. The higher you move up the hierarchy, the more complex the rules.
UPPER CIVIL COURTS = HOUSE OF HORRORS
This site is about introducing the legal layperson to productive, concrete tools to pursue a legal dispute. We use metaphors to drive points home. One such metaphor is we describe the Upper Civil Courts as the House of Horrors because it is.
it is Risky to sue someone in Superior Court or Circuit Court
Entering the Upper Civil Courts where cases take two to five years to get to trial is serious business. There is a ludicrous amount of very complex rules that must be adhered to and a huge variety of techniques to discover facts. It’s like being in the Big Ring but here you have more than your gloves to punch with. This is why it’s referred to as the House of Horrors.
There are complaints with many causes of action to prepare, motions to be filed to knock out your opponent, and a multitude of ways to be a detective. With each one, your opponent retaliates, and very soon the Litigation Frenzy is in full swing!
Because of these factors, attorney representation is required, yet your average litigant can’t afford this expense; thus, they give up 30% to 40% of their case value to a contingent fee arrangement. That takes care of the financial factor (if you are OK with giving up so much of your potential recovery), but not the immense toll the House of Horrors takes on your well-being for such a prolonged time. It feels like an outside force is gnawing at you, always.
🍪 Smart Cookie Tip: When assessing Small Claims court as a venue always consider how much of your potential recovery you will give up to your attorney in the House of Horrors. This may bring you closer to the Small Claims limit and allow you to avoid the House of Horrors entirely and probably even handle your case in pro per.
Sue Someone in the Land of the Too Busy
The House of Horrors is also the Land of the Too Busy. The decision-makers are civil servants with a staggering backlog of cases or jurors who had to show up to decide your case or be imprisoned. Although our judges are doing the best they can to dish out justice, they don’t have sufficient time or resources to dedicate to the increasing volume of cases before them, especially since the Coronavirus pandemic.
Judges don’t have sufficient time to dedicate to the increasing volume of cases before them
When you finally get to the end of the road, after years in the Litigation Frenzy, you can easily lose because there is no precise answer in a civil case, as there is in a criminal case. Negligence is quite vague, and breach of contract is difficult to quantify. As it is, most people who have been involved with the civil court system have experiences where Lady Justice has run amok.
These are just a few of the reasons why the Upper Civil Courts can be a very risky venture, one you should ponder judiciously. This view of the courts system is what prompted Irish actor Charles Macklin to write:
The law is a sort of hocus-pocus science, that smiles in yer face while it picks your pocket
This is what the courtroom for your trial will look like.Remove the folks to the right as they will not be there unless you choose a jury trial. There will also be a bailiff with a gun starting you down to make sure you don’t make any false moves!
There are so many factors to consider before you commit to bringing your case here that we’ve curated a Two-Part Master Plan. Part 1, examined in the Upper Civil Courts Coach, is about taking every step possible to detour from the Upper Civil Courts:
MASTER PLAN 1: DETOUR TO ADR
- Work your case through Lawsuit Analyzer©
- Complete the steps in Where and When to File My Lawsuit
- Name your potential Defendants
- Perform a Collectability Assessment
- Assess the possibility of a Countersuit
- Follow the steps on the court website you will file in
- Decide whether to hire an attorney
- Prepare and send a Demand Letter to your adversary(s)
- Reconsider reducing your Claim to the Small Claims Court limit
- Engage in Automated Online Negotiation
- Submit a Mediation-Arbitration proposal to your Adversary(s)
MASTER PLAN PART 2: ENTERING THE UPPER CIVIL COURTS
Part 2, presented in the Upper Civil Courts Mechanics, is about how to move your case through the House of Horrors with the highest degree of success and the least amount of pain:
- Know what to expect
- Representing yourself: Know what it means
- Carefully plan your case
- Continually re-evaluate your case
- Continually monitor your costs
- Propose settlement often
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