General small court Q

This is involved with my 'Need legal advice :(' thread, but if I collect a
statement from a previous neighbor, or someone who use to rent the
apartment I was previously in, and I want to use those as evidence in
court of our landlords wrong-doing...what do I need to do to 'validate'
their statements? What I mean is, if Jane Doe writes a letter saying
"Landlord X did/did not do this this and this" and signs it, is that enough
for a judge? Or does it need to have like a witness when she wrote it, or
does it need to be certified through the police or something? I want to
make sure I have more than enough evidence for our case so I would like
to get a few statements from some people.

Thanks!

I do know the rules of evidence. Very well I might add. Hearsay is an out of court statement thats only value is for the truth of the matter asserted. I letter, such as the one you are proposing, is classic hearsay and inadmissable. There are multiple exceptions, however, in the jurisdictions where I practice, the letter doesn't fall in any of the 20 some odd exceptions. The only way to have the statement come in is to have that person show up in court and testify.

It is my understanding that some/most Small Claims Courts don't typically
adhere to the rules of evidence, as applied to hearsay/etc. because the
parties aren't allowed to be represented by an attorney, and thus aren't
expected to know the rules of evidence, etc. Sometimes the Judge will
listen to supposed "inadmissible" evidence, and then try not to base his/
her ultimate judgement/opinion on it, but will consider it nonetheless.

Usually the Small Claims court will tell you to have any witnesses on your
behalf appear with you that day. If they can't or it would be too
burdensome on the witnesses to come with you, I would at least get their
statement notarized. (And have them say in it something like "if necessary
I am prepared to testify that..." OR just call their statement an "Affidavit":
the judge will have to at least look at it, and even if the judge rules it
inadmissible, the judge will have at least seen that others are or your
side/have the same story) The Judge is the trier of fact in small claims
cases.

oftentimes, the small claims court judge will split the case 50/50.

make sure that you're asking for up to the minimum allowed by the court.

don't talk to her on the phone. only go through certified letters with her.

you want to build a big enough case so that she goes away.

and make sure that she doesn't fuck with your credit agencies and report that you ripped her off.

stephen

Rules of Evidence apply to small claims here.

StephenL-

Wont that make me look bad in court if I ask for more than what is 'fair'?
All I want is exactly what is coming to us, nothing for pain and suffering,
etc. I just want what we are rightfully owed. Should we still go for the
maximum? What would we catagorize the rest under?

The information about my case is in the 'need legal adivce :(' thread.

thanks for the info so far, the people I would like to get reports from are
current tenants of hers so they might not be willing to come into court,
but my mom is a notary so we could at least get a letter signed by them,
and then notarized.

research treble damages.

when the landlord is looking at losing more than she can write a check for she'll offer to settle.

stephen

You know usually your local bar assocation has a legal advice program
where you can get like 30 minutes of legal advice for 30 bucks, no
strings attached.

You should consider taking advantage of that.

If stephenL is correct (and I have a suspicion he is more correct than not), then legal advice is fairly irrelevant if the Judge is just going to split it 50/50 anyway.