USA Statutes : arizona
Title : Justices of the Peace and Other Courts Not of Record
Chapter : SMALL CLAIMS DIVISIONS OF JUSTICE COURTS
In this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires, "small claims division"
means a forum in justice courts in which procedures shall allow the inexpensive, speedy
and informal resolution of small claims.
22-502 Establishment of small claims division
There is established in each justice court a division designated as the small claims
22-503 Jurisdiction; exceptions
A. The small claims division has concurrent original jurisdiction with the justice
court in all civil actions in which the debt, damage, tort, injury or value of the
personal property claims either by the plaintiff or defendant does not exceed two
thousand five hundred dollars, exclusive of interest and costs, and in actions in which a
party seeks to disaffirm, avoid or rescind a contract, or seeks equitable relief, and the
amount at issue does not exceed two thousand five hundred dollars.
B. The small claims division does not have jurisdiction over the following:
1. Those matters excluded from justice court jurisdiction as provided in section
2. Actions involving claims of defamation by libel or slander.
3. Actions in forcible entry, forcible detainer or unlawful detainer.
4. Actions for specific performance.
5. Actions brought or defended on behalf of a class.
6. Actions requesting or involving prejudgment remedies.
7. Actions involving injunctive relief.
8. Traffic violations and other criminal matters.
9. Actions against this state, its political subdivisions or an officer or employee
of the state or its political subdivisions in his official capacity.
22-504 Transfer to justice court
A. If any person whose rights are or may be adjudicated by an action in the small
claims division appears at least ten days prior to the time set for hearing and objects
to the proceedings being held in the small claims division, the action shall be
transferred from the small claims division to the justice court and the provisions
relating to civil actions in justice court shall apply.
B. From and after January 1, 1991 the complaint form used in the small claims
division of each justice court shall contain the following language printed in no smaller
than ten point bold-faced type:
"Warning - you do not have the right to appeal the decision of the hearing
officer or the justice of the peace in a small claims court. If you wish to
preserve your right to appeal, you may have your case transferred to the
justice court pursuant to section 22-504, subsection A, ARIZONA Revised
Statutes, if you request such transfer at least ten days prior to the day of
the scheduled hearing."
22-505 Venue of small claims actions; permissible motions
A. The rules governing venue of civil actions in the justice courts govern small
B. A motion for change of venue and a motion to vacate a judgment are the only
motions allowed in a small claims action. These motions shall be heard only by a justice
of the peace.
22-506 Hearing officers
A. The presiding judge of the superior court in the county may appoint hearing
officers for small claims divisions upon recommendation of the justice of the peace.
B. A hearing officer shall be of good moral character and shall be a qualified
elector and resident of this state.
C. A hearing officer may serve in any justice of the peace precinct within the
county in which he is a resident.
D. A hearing officer shall serve without pay.
E. Special hearing officers may be appointed pursuant to subsection A to hear only
mobile home park landlord-tenant controversies arising under title 33, chapter 11 or
under the rental agreement between such parties.
F. While acting as a hearing officer for small claims, a hearing officer has the
same powers as a justice of the peace.
G. If any party objects to the hearing officer prior to the hearing date, that
party's case shall be referred to the justice of the peace of that precinct.
22-507 Clerk of the small claims division
A. A designated clerk of each justice court shall provide such assistance as may be
requested by any person regarding the jurisdiction, venue, pleadings or procedures of the
small claims division. However, these clerks shall not engage in the practice of law.
B. A designated clerk of each justice court shall inform the parties to a small
claims proceeding of their rights, including that the parties do not have the right to
appeal a decision rendered by a judge or hearing officer of the small claims division.
C. The clerk shall, upon request, provide all necessary forms to the parties.
D. The justice of the peace may designate a clerk of the small claims division of
the justice court to conduct debtor examinations pursuant to section 22-524.
22-511 Schedule of hearings
The small claims division shall conduct hearings at such times as the justice of the
peace may determine or as the supreme court may order including evening and Saturday
22-512 Parties; representation
A. Any natural person, corporation, partnership, association, marital community or
other organization may commence or defend a small claims action, but no assignee or other
person not a real party to the original transaction giving rise to the action may
commence such an action except as a personal representative duly appointed pursuant to a
proceeding as provided in title 14.
B. Notwithstanding section 32-261, in a small claims action:
1. An individual shall represent himself.
2. Either spouse or both may represent a marital community.
3. An active general partner or an authorized full-time employee shall represent a
4. A full-time officer or authorized employee shall represent a corporation.
5. An active member or an authorized full-time employee shall represent an
6. Any other organization or entity shall be represented by one of its active
members or authorized full-time employees.
An attorney-at-law shall not appear or take any part in the filing or prosecution or
defense of any matter designated as a small claim.
C. Notwithstanding subsection B of this section, at any time prior to hearing, the
parties may stipulate by written agreement to the participation of attorneys in actions
designated as small claims.
D. This section is not intended to limit or otherwise interfere with a party's
right to assign or to employ counsel to pursue his rights and remedies subsequent to the
entry of judgment in a small claims action.
E. Attorneys-at-law may represent themselves in propria persona.
22-513 Method of service
A. In addition to any other available methods of service, the plaintiff may serve
the summons and complaint by registered or certified mail. Service is deemed complete on
the date of delivery of the registered or certified mail to the defendant as indicated on
the return receipt that is received and filed with the court either in person or by first
class mail. If the date of delivery was not entered by the postal carrier or is
illegible, service is deemed complete on the date the return receipt is received and
filed with the court, either in person or by first class mail. The clerk of the small
claims division of the justice court may make service by certified restricted mail,
return receipt requested.
B. If the defendant cannot be served by registered or certified mail, personal
service by a process server or an authorized officer or by any other means pursuant to
court rule may be used. If personal service is used, an affidavit of service shall be
filed with the court.
C. If personal service is used, service is deemed complete on the date of delivery
that is indicated on the certificate of service.
D. At the time a complaint is filed, the clerk shall notify the plaintiff that if
the plaintiff serves the summons and complaint by registered or certified mail under
subsection A of this section the plaintiff may file the registered or certified mail
return receipt with the court either in person or by first class mail.
22-514 Time for answer
The time in which the summons shall require defendant to answer is in all cases
twenty days, commencing from the date of service.
22-515 Setting of trials; failure to appear; continuances
A. Upon the filing of an answer by the defendant, the clerk shall set the action
for hearing. The hearing shall be set for a date within sixty days of the filing of the
defendant's answer. The clerk shall notify the parties of the time and place of the
B. Any party failing to appear at the time set for hearing risks having an
appropriate judgment entered against such party.
C. Continuances of hearings shall be granted only for most serious reasons.
22-516 Trial procedure
A. The justice of the peace or hearing officer shall conduct the trial in such a
manner to do justice between the parties and shall not be bound by formal rules of
procedure, pleading or evidence except for statutory provisions relating to privileged
communications. Any evidence deemed material, relevant and competent may be admitted.
B. Discovery proceedings shall not be used in the small claims procedure.
22-517 Counterclaims exceeding jurisdiction; procedures; sanctions for improper assertion
A. In any action where a counterclaim is asserted and the amount involved in the
counterclaim exceeds the jurisdictional amount of the small claims division, the court
shall at once terminate the designation as a small claim action, and the action shall
proceed in accordance with the rules relating to all other civil actions.
B. If, at any stage during the proceedings subsequent to the termination of the
small claims designation as provided in subsection A, the justice of the peace or
superior court judge determines that the amount actually involved in the counterclaim is
not in excess of the exclusive civil jurisdictional amount of the small claims division,
the action shall be reinstated in either the small claims division civil docket as a
designated small claim action or in the justice court civil docket as a regular civil
C. If the court which makes a determination as provided in subsection B, that
results in a reinstatement of the small claims designation, further determines that the
amount requested in the counterclaim was asserted for the sole purpose of avoiding small
claims proceedings, the court so finding shall award the plaintiff his costs plus his
actual reasonable attorney fees incurred in defending the counterclaim.
22-518 Jury trials prohibited
There is no right to a jury in the small claims division.
There shall be no appeal in a small claims procedure and the decision of the hearing
officer or justice of the peace shall be final and binding on both parties.
22-520 Recording judgment
A. The judgment by the justice of the peace or hearing officer in small claims
issues shall be rendered no later than ten days from the close of the trial.
B. All judgments shall be in writing and the court shall mail copies to all
C. The judgment shall clearly state the determination of the rights of the parties.
D. The judgment is due and payable immediately after the judgment is rendered by
the justice of the peace or a hearing officer in small claims court. Collection of the
judgment by the prevailing party may follow the procedures as provided in sections 22-243
22-521 Docket and records
Notwithstanding section 22-212, each justice of the peace shall maintain a small
claims docket in which he shall enter:
1. The title of all actions commenced before him, including names of all plaintiffs
2. All judgments rendered by the justice of the peace or hearing officer.
The following fees are established pursuant to section 22-281:
1. The fee for filing a small claims complaint.
2. The fee for serving the complaint upon the defendant by registered or certified
3. The fee for answering a complaint.
22-523 Notice to public
A. The presiding judge of the superior court in each county shall publicize in an
appropriate manner the existence of the small claims division, its procedures and its
hours of operation. Such publication shall be made so as to bring the division's
existence to the attention of the entire community.
B. The supreme court shall publish a small claims division brochure outlining the
procedures of the division in lay terms.
22-524 Debtor's examination
A. At the time of judgment and on request of the prevailing party or on the judge's
own initiative, the judge shall order the judgment debtor to participate in a debtor's
examination hearing. The court may hold the hearing immediately after judgment or may
set a date for the hearing within ten days after judgment.
B. The judge, a hearing officer, a court employee designated by the judge or a
person authorized by law to administer oaths may conduct the debtor's examination. At
the hearing, the judgment debtor shall provide the court with information on the debtor's
assets and liabilities. This information shall include money, property, corporate shares
and interest, loans and support payments. The court or judgment creditor may require