Posted by me on August 10, 2001 at 00:54:39:
In Reply to: NYC Small Claims: Do I need a lawyer? posted by luke on August 09, 2001 at 09:47:49:
: LL is showing up to small claims court with a lawyer. Do I need one as well? I'm trying to get my security back, and don't really have the resources to hire a lawyer. Any advice?
No. Do not get a lawyer. Period. Absolutely, positively do not. Even if you could afford one, dont.
Not having a lawyer gives you an edge. Your opponent is paying for a lawyer and you aren't. Just tell your story reasonably, produce as much evidence and witnesses as you can, stay calm and do not -- repeat, do NOT -- "play lawyer." Just stick to the facts. If he gets legal, tell the judge-arbitrator that you are not a lawyer and that you had understood that procedures were supposed to be informal.
If he offers to settle beforehand, listen politely. Ask him to justify whatever he is offering.
If he wants a postponement, don't agree to it (unless you want one too). Dont let him drag it out.
I believe there is a law permitting recovery of extra damages--treble damages?-- for unreasonably withholding a security deposit. If so, be sure to ask.
Also, if given a choice if you want an arbitrator or a judge--I had such a choice last time I was in SC -- get the arbitrator. It will be more informal.
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