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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Power of attorney in small claims court

    I live in Middlesex County, New Jersey. I am involved in a small claims case against my current landlord regarding the return of a security deposit for a recently-vacated apt in the same complex. However, the security deposit was not for an apt I had leased myself, so I am not the plaintiff in the case. However, all the payments in question (which were misapplied or lost by the landlord) came from my bank accts, and I have done all the prep work for the lawsuit. We are trying to get our current court date (the second such date so far) rescheduled since the plaintiff used his last vacation day of the year to attend a 9:00 a.m. hearing that had been suddenly adjourned by the judge after hours the evening before (at the request of the defense atty ... does not inspire confidence in the small claims system, but I digress). My question: will a power of atty allow me to represent him in small claims court WITHOUT him present? There is no real "testimony" involved; all the evidence is in the form of cleared checks, certified letters, and emails, all of which were drawn on my bank accts or written/emailed by me. There’s nothing even to dispute -- there's no disagreements about the date we vacated or the amount of the final rent payment or any deductions from the deposit or anything else that would require oral testimony -- they just didn’t respond to our efforts to credit our payments properly and give us an accurate, written statement of our account (and the plaintiff's security deposit, of course). Still, they appear to be fighting it rather than working with us, which makes me nervous since I am not a lawyer. And finally, if we ARE able to use a power of atty so that the plaintiff does not need to be present, what are our obligations as far as informing the defense atty and the court that I will be present at the hearing, not the plaintiff? Finally, can we (and how do we) “cancel” that power of atty immediately after?

    Last edited by amelita; 09-11-2008 at 07:24 PM.
  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Having a limited POA to file is one thing but I suspect the person you filed on behalf of should be there too, this way they are able to answer any questions the court has. EVEN if you were the one doing the notices and gathering proofs, I dont think it would be very wise to go in on your own, then the risk would be that the court would reject the claim and then its more work and money to refile or fight. This way the other person can tell the court that you have helped and how you helped and all about the proofs you have.

  3. #3
    A "power of attorney" does not, contrary to what seems to be popular belief, actually grant you the right to act as an attorney - it gives you the right to act as someone's agent. Since every state in the union requires you to have a law license to represent anyone but yourself in court, having a POA will not help you in your quest to avoid having the plaintiff appear.

    Only choices are: plaintiff appears in person or plaintiff hires a licensed lawyer to appear (and even then, plaintiff is likely going to be required to appear at some point).

    Quote Originally Posted by Tranquility
    Once you get to crazy land, it is only a guess on how to get out.
  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    I agree with YAG. Power of attorney does not an attorney make.

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