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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Explains legal matters based on 14+ years experience.
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I recently won a decision in small claims court in Mass. The

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I recently won a decision in small claims court in Mass. The defendant has appealed. Reason for appeal? The defendant feels that the magistrates decision was not fair ( Whine, whine) The defendant also claims he never received a phone call advising him that the work was to be terminated. ( I will try to get phone records if that is necessary. I understand that only the subject of of the appeal is discussed at the new hearing. ( This time a judge) Do I need to re-address all that was communicated the first time? Do I need to bring the documentation that I presented to the magistrate previously? Re: phone records. Is that really necessary? Comcast was my provider in April of 2011 and a record of my last call to the defendant is with their records. I am no longer using Comcast but I understand it their responsibility to provide the info that I need. I hope it will not be time extensive or complicated to receive the records as the appeal hearing on March 22nd., 2013. I am not using the assistance of an attorney as I did not feel this would be necessary and frankly I can't affore that expense. Please advise. Patricia Marchand
Welcome and thank you for your question!

I am sorry to learn of the ordeal that you have to experience. In Mass., the appeal is like a whole new trial. So, you have to come to court with everything as if you are going to present your case all over again. You only need to bring whatever evidence you believe is necessary to prove/win your case. Keep in mind that your testimony is also a form of evidence.

On appeal, the judge will reach a new decision, but may take into account that the magistrate previously decided the claim in your favor.

If you have not already done so, you may want to review this link. It's prepared by the Mass. courts and provides the procedural info for small claims appeals.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back. I am happy to address follow-up questions. Thank you for your business!

~~ J.B.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

At the first hearing I, the plaintiff, had to explain and document ( photographs, invoices from a new contractor, etc.) the individual issues/complaints, that I listed on my form against the defendant. I find it stressful that the entire back and forth will have to be re-communicated and re-hashed again. The defendant was angry, obviously still is, and has appealed the original decision that was in my favor. It was my understanding that only the complaint that the now plaintiff addressed on his appeal form, would be brought before the hearing be discussed. I previously visited the court to ask advise on what the procedure was for the payment hearing ( now cancelled of course) and they were not very friendly or helpful and that is why I am taking this tactic to better understand what is expected of me at an appeals hearing.

I understand. It seems to be an unnecessary hassle. However, it's a procedural step that the Mass. legislature created when it created the small claims court division.

It could have been worse. The defendant could have asked for a new trial by a jury!

I wish you the very best. Don't let this person wear you down. Pride is in their way. You know how to make your case. You did it once before. You can do it again and you will do it with even greater confidence because the other side had shown their hand. Don't worry about any surprises.

~~ J.B.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks. I intend to only bring phone records if hopefully, I am sucessfully able to obtain them. In some cases do parties bring phone records and do they have a strong bearing on the case? Of course, sensibilities tell me I should have my previous documentations (proof to substantiate my claims) Even the first hearing was not a comfortable one. The magistrate was quite intimidating, cutting the parties off if verbal explanations were not acceptable in some way. My biggest first suprise was the result of the first hearing arrived in two days as opposed to two weeks as the magistrate had indicatated. My second astonishing surprise was that the defendant had appealed!!

The phone records are important only in the sense that it is independent corroboration of what you say verbally. It's like "Judge, you don't even have to believe what I say ...... here's the independent proof that shows X, Y, Z."

The records will bolster your credibility.

~~ J.B.
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