To begin an action in the Justice Court system, it is recommended that the plaintiff
file a Justice Court Petition in writing stating the nature of the Cause of Action,
and the damages requested. All forms used to file a petition are found in the
Form Downloads section
In any Small Claim or Debt Claim case once you have filed the petition stating the
facts and circumstance of your suit, the citation will be served to the Defendant
notifying him/her of the fact that a suit has been filed against them in this court.
The citation will order the Defendant to answer this suit by the end of the 14th
day after the day the Defendant was served with the citation and petition, but
- if the 14th day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the answer is due on the
next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday; and
- if the 14th day falls on a day during which the court is closed before 5:00 p.m.,
the answer is due on the court's next business day.
If he/she fails to answer the suit in a timely manner, you then become eligible
for a default judgment up until the time an answer is filed. You as the Plaintiff
are required to request a default hearing with the Court.
If the Defendant answers the suit denying the allegations, this court will notify
both parties by mail of the trial date. We discourage motions for continuance. Any
request for a continuance must be in proper wirtten form and timely filed.
With respect to the trial itself, all legal rules of evidence and procedure apply
in all Justice Civil suits.
Should you receive a judgment, the court does not collect the judgment. However,
you may request an abstract of judgment and/or writ of execution and/or a writ of
garnishnment to help ou in collection of this judgment. The fee for an abstract
of judgment is $5.00 and will need to be filed at the County Clerk's Office. This
will be recorded on the defendant's credit history.
If at anytime, after the suit is filed with the court the defendant pays off the
claim it is very important for the plaintiff to notify the Clerk to dismiss the
case. If an abstract of judgment has been issued and filed with the County Clerk,
a Release of Judgment must be filed with the County Clerk.
Thirty-one days after the judgment is signed, the plaintiff may request a writ of
execution. The fee for a writ of execution of $155.00, if the defendant lives in
Smith County. The writ enables the Constable or Sheriff to levy on property of the
defendant. This is not exempt by the laws of the State of Texas. It is a good idea
to talk to a Constable or Sheriff to learn what is exempt property. The Clerk of
the Court will notify the plaintiff when the writ has bee returned.