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  1. #1
    kraze is offline Junior Member
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    Who can represent me in Small Claims Court?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California


    Hi,

    I am getting ready to go to small claims court and I am curious if my father is able to speak on my behalf? I will be present in the court room but would like him to speak on my behalf.
  2. #2
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kraze View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California


    Hi,

    I am getting ready to go to small claims court and I am curious if my father is able to speak on my behalf? I will be present in the court room but would like him to speak on my behalf.
    California small claims courts do not allow for attorney representation. Even if they did, the only person who COULD speak on your behalf would be an attorney. Or another exception might be if you are a minor, where the parent can speak for you. Otherwise, just you, for yourself.

    Is there a particular reason you don't want to speak for yourself (other than the fact that your dad could say it much better)?
  3. #3
    latigo is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kraze View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California


    Hi,

    I am getting ready to go to small claims court and I am curious if my father is able to speak on my behalf? I will be present in the court room but would like him to speak on my behalf.
    Sorry, but neither your father, an attorney or anyone else can "speak on your behalf" in a California Small Claims Court.
  4. #4
    kraze is offline Junior Member
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    Is there a particular reason you don't want to speak for yourself (other than the fact that your dad could say it much better)?
    Nope...that is pretty much spot on...lol


    Thank you both for your answers.
  5. #5
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    If your dad was a witness to the events in question, you could have him speak in that capacity.
  6. #6
    kraze is offline Junior Member
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    He was a witness and I do plan on having it speak in capacity, was just curious if he could do the whole thing...lol
  7. #7
    dcatz is offline Senior Member
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    Perhaps sufficient for your particular case, OP, but perhaps misleading for one litigating under other circumstances. Generally, small claims court actions must be prosecuted and defended by the parties themselves but:

    The court has discretion to allow another party to assist a party if the court determines that the party is unable to properly present his/her claim or defense and needs assistance (CCP §116.540(k)).

    This is to be distinguished from the use of an interpreter for a party who does not speak or understand English (CCP §116.550(a)). Parenthetically, this can be a common problem area when the litigant gives a one-word response and the interpreter (frequently a family member) launches into a narrative.

    With the exception of actions specifically involving attorneys (CCP §116.530(b)), an attorney may not participate in the proceeding (including as an interpreter, but may advise before and after the hearing, and provide representation after the matter has been reduced to judgment (such as at a debtor’s exam). An attorney may also testify about facts as to which he/she has personal knowledge and is competent to testify (CCP §116.530(c)).

    Other situations in which a layperson could represent a party are:
    A married person who sues or is sued with his or her spouse may participate on behalf of the spouse if (a) the claim is a joint claim, (b) the represented spouse has consented and (c) the court determines that the interests of justice would be served (CCP §116.540(j)).

    The aforementioned situation where an interpreter is required (CCP §116.550(a)).

    Members of the Armed Forces (CCP §116.540(f)), prisoners (CCP §116.550(a)) and defendant non-resident real property owners defending claims related to that property (CCP §116.540(g)) are entitled to waive personal appearance and submit written declarations as evidence, to have another person appear on their behalf or to do both.

    An owner of rental real property may defend an action relating to that property by appearing through an property agent hired principally to manage that rental property (CCP §116.540(g)).

    And you’ve been told that a minor or incompetent can only appear by a guardian ad litem (CCP §116.410(b))

    These would be exceptions to the prohibition against practicing law without a license in violation of B&P C §6125 and violating (CCP §116.540(a)).

    One other situation involving a layperson appearing on behalf of a party occurs in small claims courts almost daily and that is to offer proof of the items of an account (CCP §116.540(d)). The proof must be made in accordance with the provisions of Evid C §§1270-1271.

    Under CCP §116.540(b), a corporation or other entity that is not a natural person may only appear through an employee, officer or director who is employed for purposes other than representing the entity in small claims court (CCP §116.540(j)).

    Nobody asked what the case was about. It appears inconceivably unlikely, particularly in light of the OP’s insouciant responses, but, as an interesting aside, hypothetically, if the son ran a business and the father was the bookkeeper and it was a collection case for an account due, it cannot be conclusively said that the OP’s father couldn’t represent him.

    Ironically enough, the statement is also made that an attorney cannot speak on your behalf and, while probably the universal opinion in conformity with statute, the federal government takes the position that it can only appear through the U.S. Attorney under 28 USC §547. Therefore, when a federal agency does appear, the court is probably required by the supremacy clause of the Constitution to allow representation by the U.S. Attorney. Commentators considering this have opined that equal protection may then require giving the other party an opportunity to obtain counsel. Unlikely but . . . .
  8. #8
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    The answer has not changed in the two years since this post was opened. No, you cannot speak for them.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.

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