The information contained on this web page is provided as a courtesy to members of the public, and shall not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions, contact the Wisconsin Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service (800)-362-9082 for additional assistance.
Filing An Answer
If you disagree with the Plaintiff's claim you can do one of two things:
- File a written Answer (Form SC-5200V (PDF)) with the court before the Return Date. Once filed, a copy of the Answer and Counterclaim must be sent to the Plaintiff. If you file a written Answer, you do not need to appear at the Return Date.
- If you disagree with the Plaintiff's claim, you can appear at the Return Date to contest the claim. If you appear at the Return Date, you do not need to file a written answer.
If a Small Claims case is contested it will then be scheduled for a Court Trial.
My Case is Going to Trial
Preparing Your Case
- Collect and preserve any documents or other evidence needed for trial. This can include receipts, invoices, contracts, text messages, etc. Evidence on cell phones, computers or other electronic devices must be printed out or saved to a storage device to submit to the court.
- If you have any exhibits that are electronic, you must make arrangements with the court to test your electronics prior to your trial date. To make arrangements please call 920-834-6843.
- You must bring enough copies of your evidence to give yourself, the Commissioner and all other parties.
- Make a detailed timeline. A timeline of all of the events involved (in date order) may help you present your case in a more organized way.
- Determine if you will need witnesses. Witnesses are people who have personal knowledge of the facts of your case. Friends and relatives may come voluntarily, but business people, police officers and others with no personal interest in the outcome of your case might not. In that case, if the witness lives in Wisconsin, you can require the witness to come to court by having the witness served with a subpoena. (See page 9 of Basic Guide to WI Small Claims Actions (PDF) for more information)
- An expert witness is a person with special training, experience, or expertise in a field beyond the knowledge of an ordinary person. Having the expert witness testify in person is almost always necessary. Merely repeating what your expert told you will probably not be allowed. A written statement or affidavit from the expert witness will not be sufficient.
Participating in Trial
Both parties will give testimony, present their evidence, and question any witnesses they have.
The Plaintiff presents his or her evidence first; then the Defendant is able to present his or her evidence. After swearing or affirming to testify truthfully, state the facts clearly and concisely. Keep to the key facts and do not discuss side issues unless a question requires it. If you have written documents, or other evidence to support your claim, show them to the commissioner and opposing party, explaining what it is and how it relates to your case.
At the conclusion of the Plaintiff's testimony, the Judge or Commissioner may ask some questions. The Defendant then has the right to cross-examine the Plaintiff. When that is completed, the Plaintiff may call any other witnesses he or she has.
The Defendant follows the plaintiff and presents his or her case in the same way.
After all the evidence has been presented, the Judge or Commissioner will state the decision on the record or issue a written decision at a later date.