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Ask the Lawyer: Where can I find useful information about small claims court?

Q: Is there a basic primer online about small claims court? For example, how much can we sue for? What forms do we use? How do we file the case?

-A.L., La Mirada

Ron Sokol

A: For Los Angeles County, go to the web browser and type in: small claims — L.A. court; another resource online is the self help web page on the Los Angeles Superior Court’s website. For Orange County, go to your web browser and type in “small claims,  the Superior Court of California, Orange County.” These links have basic details that will provide useful guidance. Also, small claims documents are now electronically filed. This process is addressed online: Google “LASC e-filing, small claims, LA. Court”; for Orange County, type in: “e-filing for small claims, Orange County Superior Court.” The California Department of Consumer Affairs also has a detailed brochure concerning small claims court that covers a multitude of important topics. Go to the Consumer Affairs website, click on “publications” and scroll down to “small claims court.”

Q: What if I do not want a temporary judge to hear my case in small claims court?

-B.K., Redondo Beach

A: The court clerk should indicate before the hearings if a temporary judge is scheduled to consider matters that day. You will be asked to sign a stipulation that allows the temporary judge to decide your case. If you choose not to sign the stipulation, the matter will be referred to a sitting judge. It is possible your case will be taken up that day, if the judge has time; otherwise, the hearing will be rescheduled for another date and time on the judge’s calendar. On occasion, the judge is not in the same courthouse, so you might have to go to another location.

Small claims court advisers

These advisers do not provide legal advice, but they can provide helpful information. You can call them Monday through Friday. Los Angeles: 213-974-9759; Orange County: 714-571-5277.

Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 35 years of experience. His column, which appears on in print on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at

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Source: Orange County Register

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