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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default Are Legal Fees Recoverable in Small Claims Court

    My question involves small claims court in the state of: Georgia

    I'm considering taking action on a person who was arrested and indicted for Attempted Burglary on my residence.

    The Facts

    The defendant retained a rapacious, well-connected defense attorney who filed a motion for additional discovery on my property. Although the motion was substantiated by no legal authority whatsoever, it was granted by the superior court judge nonetheless.

    I retained an attorney and spent thousands to insist on a written court order with specificity and to have him present during the discovery. In the end, against my wishes, the defendant was allowed to plea out to the lesser charge of criminal trespass.


    1. Can I recover the legal fees in magistrate court?

    2 If so, should I send a demand letter to the defendant first?

    3. Is it possible to get a Change of Venue? (Obviously, I have solid reasons to believe the county/judicial district at issue is less than equitable or just).

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    CT & IL

    Default Re: Are Legal Fees Recoverable in Small Claims Court

    You have a civil suit against him? Unless there is a statue that allows recovery of lawyer's fees then they are not recoverable. So if you are planning on a small claims case to recover lawyer's fees associated with a criminal trial you can forget it I think.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Default Re: Are Legal Fees Recoverable in Small Claims Court

    I see nobody else has answered this, so in my opinion.

    Not a chance. You might recuse a particular judge but even that is not likely.

    In theory you could sue for damages which happened during the criminal trespass and burglary. The civil case is not limited to criminal trespass. You can prove the burglary in civil court and any damages that resulted from it. Being able to complete service or collecting is another matter.

    As for the money you spent to intervene in the defendant's criminal discovery request, I don't know of any legal basis under which you could recover that.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011

    Default Re: Are Legal Fees Recoverable in Small Claims Court

    I agree, no, no, and maybe. You not only could file a motion asking the judge to recuse himself and take your chances with that, but if your court is big enough sometimes some judges primarily handle criminal cases and others civil cases. This next case would be civil.

    Many courts, even state courts have a chief justice who may write the local rules and assign judges. If yours does, you could make a motion to that judge to assign a different judge.

    Ask yourself two questions. 1. Would it be wise to ask a judge to recuse himself for cause, and then find out that he wouldn't and you have to deal with him? 2. Does this burglar have anything you could collect even if you won? Many people win judgments and then "can't get blood from a stone."

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