Small Claims and Supreme Court
We offer binding arbitration for cases referred from the local courts under Article 75 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules. Like a hearing held in the courts, during an arbitration standards of evidence are applied to all evidence submitted to the parties. All testimony is given under oath, and the Arbitrator has the power to subpoena witnesses when needed. The Arbitrator will weigh the evidence and testimony submitted, and issue a decision within 30 days of the hearing.
The primary difference between a court hearing and an arbitration is the setting. Arbitrations are held at the offices of The Peacemaker Program, Inc. in a conference room, rather than in a court room. This results in a slightly less formal feel, and allows the parties for more time to present their individual case. Parties are welcome, but not required, to be represented by an attorney in arbitration.
Enforcement of an Arbitrator's decision is handled like any judicial decision, and parties are referred to their local courts for relevant information. Other Frequently Asked Questions are answered below:
What kinds of materials should I bring to the hearing?
Any proof nessecary to support your claim. Common choices include:
- Written agreements (leases, etc)
- Any itemized bill or invoice that is receipted or marked "paid"
- Written estimates of the cost of service or repairs
- A receipt for the purchase of an item or payment of a debt
- Cancelled checks
- Any correspondence
Please note that it is recommended that if submitting estimates, you should have three different written, itemized estimates of the cost of the service or repairs.
How are documents and other proof submitted?
You must provide a minimum of three (3) copies of anything you are planning to submit as proof of your claim. This includes any media, such as photographs, videos on print, CD, or DVD. If you are the party submitting any of the above media, you must provide a device to view the materials the day of the hearing.
If you do not have your three (3) copies in hand the day of the hearing, The Peacemaker Program, Inc. will charge a fee of 60¢ per page for making copies of documents for your claim. Cash, check, and credit/debit are acceptable. Evidence must be submitted in triplicate in order to be accepted (one copy each for the Claimant, Defendant, and Arbitrator). Additional costs may apply for the duplication of media. Media must be able to be submitted to the arbitrator for consideration (e.g. photos from a digital camera must be copied on to a disc or printed).
Will I, and witnesses, have a chance to give sworn testimony?
Testimony, including your own, is an important part of your case. Any witness whose testimony is important to your case may be called to testify. This witness can be a person who witnessed your transaction or someone who has special knowledge of the circumstance of your case. A witness may also be a person whose experience makes him/her an expert on the cost of the service or repairs that were provided or may be required. It is your responsibility to pay an expert witness for their time.
You are responsible for telling your witness the date and time of the hearing. If a witness is unable to attend, you may submit a written statement from that person.
Can documents or witnesses be subpoenaed for Arbitration?
You may subpoena (this is an order requiring a person to appear or a document to be provided the day of the hearing) witnesses or documents. Any subpoena must be submitted immediately; it must be in writing as to why this witness or document should be present at the hearing. Any request for a subpoena must be approved by the Arbitrator. Depending on the strength of your reasons, your request may or may not be approved.
What if I am not prepared on the date of the hearing, or cannot be present?
You may request an adjournment (a suspension of the hearing to another time) from the Arbitrator. It is the sole discretion of the Arbitrator whether or not to grant an adjournment. If not, the hearing will continue, possibly ex parte (with one or more parties not present). In the case of Arbitration, there are no automatic dismissals of claims or default judgments.
Who can participate in the Arbitration process; can I have an attorney present?
The Claimant and Defendant are the primary participants. Attorneys are welcome, and it is assumed that they will understand the differences between a trial/hearing in court and the Arbitration. Witnesses will be called as needed, and will typically not be present for the entire hearing.
How much does the service cost?
There is no additional cost to the participants imposed by The Peacemaker Program, Inc. for Arbitration. Parties may incur incidental costs during the process such as filing fees and copying fees.
How do I collect on a judgment?
Judgments must be paid within 30 days. You are responsible for taking action to collect on your judgment. Like a court, neither the Arbitrator nor The Peacemaker Program, Inc. is involved in enforcement of a judgment. The court of origin for the claim can often provide information regarding procedures in the parties' district, and the Attorney General may also be able to provide information. Options for collecting include wage garnishment and diversion of tax returns and lottery winnings. This process can be completed with the aid of an attorney, the assistance of a law enforcement official (such as a city marshall), and/or the use of private collections agencies. There is typically a fee associated with these services. The Peacemaker Program, Inc. is unable to advise parties on collections procedures.