YOU CAN WIN BIG IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT by James Morris
Kirkus Star

YOU CAN WIN BIG IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Similar to Striker and Shapiro's recent--and very good--How You Can Sue Without Hiring a Lawyer (p. 563), but with an interesting hook: it's written by a (Rochester, N.Y.) small claims court judge. Morris starts with procedure, and a good discussion of how to determine if you have a valid claim and where to sue. The emphasis then shifts to case studies (real, but with names changed, says Morris), in order to illustrate typical small claims in 40-odd substantive areas from landlord/tenant disputes to unsatisfactory auto repairs. Morris is adroit at using simple case histories to explain abstract concepts like ""consequential damages"" (the cost of spoiled food in your incorrectly-repaired refrigerator); and he often includes checklists for both claimants and respondents to use in lining up evidence. Here and there, the unique perspective of a judge comes through: having an attorney represent you will probably not improve your position at all; photos are almost always useful (what better way to show that the wallpaper was hung upside-down?); don't memorize a speech, but practice for the hearing by having a friend question you about your case, since that's probably what the judge will do. On the minus side, far too little attention is devoted to the mechanics of enforcing money judgments, and a few of the case histories seem so fact-specific as to be of limited general applicability. Overall, however, Morris displays a keen awareness of the symbolism of small claims court-the point is not the money, but letting your adversary know he can't get away with it--and offers laypersons clear and non-condescending advice on how to use the small claims court system. Along with the Striker and Shapiro book, the most useful guide in the area.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Rawson, Wade--dist. by Atheneum