Legal Question in Business Law in California

Small Claims Court

In California Small Claims Court, are lawyers allowed in the proceedings?

My son has a small business in California, and he might have to take a client to small claims court to collect on the balance due over a disputed invoice. However, the client's husband IS A LAWYER - which would make it unfair and unbalanced to have him in the courtroom representing the client (his own wife). He has been the one corresponding with my son, but the wife is the person who signed the original contract with my son.

How is that handled? By the plaintiff (my son) listing the client as the only party in the case, would that be enough to keep the husband out of the proceedings?


Asked on 2/04/06, 10:42 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Carl Starrett Law Offices of Carl H. Starrett II

Re: Small Claims Court

Attorneys cannot appear and represent clients as an advocate at the initial trial. However, attorneys can assist with the preparation for the trial and the attorney might even draft a statement for the client to make or a brief for the judge to read.

Attorneys with knowledge of the facts can appear as witnesses and testify. And like any other member of the public, an attorney can attend and observe the proceedings.

If the attorney/husband does show up, bring this to the attention of the judge. Ask the judge to require the attorney to sit in audience and to prohibit the attorney with assisting in the presentation of evidence.

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Answered on 2/04/06, 11:48 am
Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Re: Small Claims Court

Mr. Starret's answer is correct. I want to add that when a business is a party to a small claims case it can send an officer or employee to represent it, but cannot send a lawyer unless she is also an officer or employee. Note that designating a lawyer as an officer or employee for the purpose of having her handle small claims cases for the company is not legal.

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Answered on 2/04/06, 6:40 pm

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