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Navigating the Process: What to Expect During a Small Claims Trial in Wisconsin

Posted by Nathan DeLadurantey | Oct 25, 2023

Small claims trials can be intimidating, especially for individuals with little to no legal experience. If you find yourself embroiled in a small claims dispute in Wisconsin, understanding the trial process is key to navigating the complexities of the legal system. Here's what you can expect during a small claims trial in the Badger State.

  1. Preparation and Filing: Before the trial, both the plaintiff and the defendant must file their claims and responses with the small claims court. In Wisconsin, the maximum amount that can be claimed is $10,000. It's essential to ensure that all necessary documents and evidence supporting your case are correctly filed and submitted within the stipulated time frame to avoid delays and complications.

  2. Mediation or Pretrial Conference: In some instances, the court may suggest or mandate mediation or a pretrial conference to facilitate a resolution outside of the courtroom. During this phase, both parties, with the assistance of a mediator or court officer, have the opportunity to discuss potential settlement options. While this is not mandatory, it can often lead to a faster and less costly resolution.

  3. Court Appearance: On the scheduled trial date, both parties are expected to appear before a judge in the small claims court. It's crucial to arrive on time and be prepared with all relevant documentation, including contracts, receipts, photographs, or any other evidence that supports your claim. Make sure to dress appropriately and conduct yourself in a respectful manner throughout the proceedings.

  4. Presentation of Evidence and Testimonies: During the trial, both parties have the opportunity to present their case. This involves providing evidence, such as documents, photographs, or witness testimonies, to support their claims or defenses. The judge will carefully consider the evidence presented and may ask questions to clarify any uncertainties.

  5. Legal Representation and Procedures: While legal representation is not required in small claims court, both parties have the option to seek legal counsel if they wish. However, the simplified procedures and relaxed rules of evidence in small claims court are designed to allow individuals to represent themselves effectively. Understanding these procedures can help you navigate the trial with confidence.

  6. Judgment and Enforcement: Once both parties have presented their case, the judge will make a decision based on the evidence and testimonies presented. The judgment will be provided on the trial day or at a later date. If the judgment is in your favor, it is essential to understand the enforcement process to ensure that you can collect any awarded damages or compensation.

  7. Appeals Process: If either party disagrees with the judgment, they may have the option to appeal the decision within a specific timeframe. Understanding the grounds and procedures for filing an appeal is crucial for anyone dissatisfied with the trial's outcome.

By familiarizing yourself with these key aspects of the small claims trial process in Wisconsin, you can approach your case with confidence and a better understanding of the legal proceedings. Preparation, thorough documentation, and a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities are essential to achieving a successful outcome in your small claims dispute.

Attorney Nathan DeLadurantey offers free consultations to explain your legal rights in Wisconsin. Free consultations can be scheduled online. 

About the Author

Nathan DeLadurantey

Nathan DeLadurantey ATTORNEY [email protected] Nathan is a skilled consumer lawyer who handles cases and trials all over Wisconsin. Phone consultations are always free and welcomed. Nathan has helped clients receive large jury verdicts and settlements stemming from consumer law violations, and is ready and able to assist.


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