District Court: Small Claims, 1980-1982

RECORD GROUP: Clerk of the Court
RECORD SERIES #: 4400.3
SERIES: District Court: Small Claims Division, Sample Cases
VOLUME: 1 cubic foot
DATES: 1980-1982

Provenance

In the period 1980 to 1982 when these records were created, the Small Claims Division of the Monmouth County District Court was handling approximately 400 cases per month. The sixty-six case files in this archival series are a small sample (less than one-half of one percent) taken from 28 record cartons (about 14,400 cases) that had been stored in the Monmouth County Record Center and were authorized for destruction by the Superior Court in Freehold, which is the successor to the Monmouth County District Court that created the records. A random sample was taken, consisting of the first and last record in each box, to which a few selected “fat files” were added that were atypical in the amount of paperwork.

Description

As suggested by the title, “Small Claims,” these cases involve one party demanding a relatively small amount of money, typically several hundred dollars, from another party. The plaintiffs and defendants can be two businesses, a business and an individual, or two individuals. Cases may involve a business trying to resolve an unpaid bill where the customer was not satisfied or just refused to pay; a customer seeking a refund from a business; someone trying to obtain a refund of a deposit for a purchase; and similar disputes.

Usually, Small Claims cases were handled expeditiously and resulted in very little paperwork. Such cases generated an envelope which records the case (docket) number, the parties involved, and the filing date. Inside the envelope was one or more copies of a summons in which the defendant is ordered to appear. The summons states the amount of money that the plaintiff is seeking. A variety of other documents may also be in the file, such as an Assignment in which the plaintiff transfers the claim to another party, or correspondence between one of the parties and the court. Although most of the cases were concluded quickly, sometimes they took several years to resolve and generated more paperwork.

Results of each case were recorded in the Monmouth County District Court Small Claims Division Docket Books. These books include records for the case files not retained by the Archives.

The cases are arranged in docket number order, which is the original order before the files were sampled. The documents, formerly tri-folded to fit in the envelopes, have been taken out of the envelopes and placed in individual folders. Exact duplicates within envelopes were discarded.

Use

These records are useful for understanding the process by which Small Claims were handled by the Monmouth County District Court. Individual cases give some idea of the types of problems in the early 1980s which led individuals and businesses to seek relief in the courts. Businesses represented in the records include a bank, a jeweler, an exterminator, building contractors and suppliers, automobile dealers, a gas utility company, and others.

The paper copy of this finding aid includes lists of the cases alphabetically by plaintiff, by defendant, and by docket number.

There are no restrictions on use of these records.

SHELF LIST
Box Docket Number Range Filing Date Range
1 28,500 to 35,151 1980-1981
2 35,530 to 39,102 1982