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Filing Your Claim

You can come to either location of the court to obtain the small claim forms to file or you may access the Judicial Council's web-site for forms.  You may also visit ICANDOCS.ORG to complete common fomrs. If the only way you can file a claim is through the mail, you must submit a request for forms along with a self-addressed stamped envelope.  Please send your request to the following locations.

Superior Court of California
County of Inyo
168 North Edwards Street
Post Office Drawer 518
Independence, California 93526
Clerk's Office: (760) 872-3038
Fax: (760) 872-6013

Superior Court of California
County of Inyo
301 West Line Street
Bishop, California 93514
Clerk's Office: (760) 872-3038
Fax: (760) 872-4984

Small Claims Advisor

New Small Claims Advisor Effective February 1st, 2011:

Sharon A. Remley
Inyo Legal Self-Help Center
314 West Line Street, Ste D.
Bishop, CA 93514
760-872-4448 (FAX)

Hearings Before Pro-Term Judges (Temporary Judges)

The Small Claims court frequently uses temporary judges (often called pro-tem judges) to hear the cases. A pro-tem judge is an attorney who has been licensed to practice law in California for a minimum of five years and who volunteers to assist the court by hearing certain cases.

You do not have to agree to have your case heard by a pro-tem judge. If you wait until your court date to request a judge of the Superior Court, your case will be continued to a date when one is available and this may delay your case.  If you know at the time of filing your claim you are not willing to have a temporary judge hear your case, let the clerk know so he/she can schedule your court date on a day and time when a judge is available.

If you are the defendant and you know prior to your court date that you are not willing to have a temporary judge hear your case, contact the clerk’s office at (760)872-3038 to have the date rescheduled for it to be heard by a judge.

If You are the Defendant

If you have been named as a defendant in a Small Claims action and have received an order to appear at a Small Claims hearing, this means that you are being sued.  Never ignore an order to appear in Court, even if you think the case is wrong, unfair, or has no basis.  If you do not appear in Court at the proper time and date, the Court may still hear and decide the case without you and you may lose the suit by default.  If you believe the plaintiff has caused you injury or owes you money arising from the same case, you can file a claim against the plaintiff in the same Small Claims action.  You must file the claim of defendant (fee charge) with the Court immediately to allow you time to serve this claim on the plaintiff.

If judgment has been entered against you and the appeal time has lapsed, your money or property and maybe a portion of your earnings can then be taken legally by the judgment creditor to pay the judgment against you. A Small Claims judgment is public record. Small Claims court does not report to any credit reporting agency; however, these agencies come to the court often and place the judgment on the losing party’s credit record even after the judgment is paid.

If You are the Plaintiff

If you choose Small Claims Court to resolve a dispute and you are the plaintiff, you give up the right to have another Court review the Small Claims judge's decision.  In other words, the plaintiff has no right of appeal.  So if you lose, that is the end of the case.  However, the person or entity you sue (defendant) may appeal the judge's ruling.  When such an appeal is filed, the entire case will be heard again by a different judge.  At the hearing on the appeal, Trial De Novo, the plaintiff and the defendant may be represented by attorneys.  If you are the plaintiff and a Claim of Defendant is filed (the defendant sues you on the same case) and you have a judgment against you, you may file an appeal on that decision.

Monetary Limit

The Small Claims Court has a monetary limit, called a jurisdictional limit, on the amount of money damages that a person can claim.  The most you can ask for is $5,000; however, you are limited to filing no more than two claims anywhere in the State of California for over $2,500 in one calendar year.  You may file an unlimited number of claims for $2,500 or less, however if 12 or more claims are filed within one calendar year, the fee is increased.

Role of the Court Clerk

The Small Claims Court clerks can answer many kinds of questions and provide the forms you need; however, they are prohibited by law from giving legal advice. For legal advice contact the Small Claims Advisor. The Court currently contracts with Sharon A. Remley of the Inyo Legal Self-Help Center to provide Small Claims Advisory Services.

Sharon A. Remley
Inyo Legal Self-Help Center
314 West Line Street, Ste D.
Bishop, CA 93514
760-872-4448 (FAX)

You may also need to take action to enforce the judgment. While a Small Claims Court judgment carries legal weight, it may be difficult to collect. Collecting a judgment is one of the most challenging aspects of any lawsuit. The Small Claims Advisor will be able to give you suggestions on how to collect your judgment. Neither the Court nor the Small Claims Advisor will collect the judgment for you.

The Department of Consumer Affairs has useful information to help you file your claim.  The site also contains information about how to collect the judgment.  Information can also be obtained through the Judicial Council self-help web-site.

What to Expect in Court

  • Come to Court organized and prepared.
  • Arrive promptly at your assigned court time; if you arrive late, your case may be heard without you.
  • Bring enough photocopies of all your evidence for each party and the judge.  If the Court is asked to make copies for you, you will be charged $1.00 per copy.
  • Have all your documents ready and in chronological order when your case is called.
  • There will be several other cases assigned to the same time as yours so you may have to wait to have your case heard.
  • Any original copies submitted to the judge the day of the trial may not be returned to you right away.  They are kept with the Court's file until all appeals are completed.
  • You may be asked to sign a stipulation allowing a protem judge (temporary judge) to hear your case.  If you do not wish to have a temporary judge hear your case, your case may be continued to a date when there is a judge of the Superior Court to hear your case.
  • When your case is called, you will sit at a table in front of the judge.  You will be asked to present your evidence and give your testimony.  Always address the judge and not the other party.
  • Usually, the plaintiff will give his/ her testimony first and then the defendant.
  • The judge will probably ask questions to further his/ her understanding of the case.
  • If you are the only party to appear at the trial and you are the plaintiff, you still must prove your case.  Do not expect to "automatically" win your case if the other party does not appear.
  • The proceedings will not be recorded by a court reporter or by any other type of recording.
  • If you are not fluent in the English language, you must bring an interpreter with you.  Small Claims courts do not provide interpreters for you.
  • The judge may not tell you the decision in Court.  The decision (judgment) will be mailed to you.


Department 1
Post Office Drawer U
Independence, CA 93526

Department 2
Post Office Drawer U
Independence, CA 93526

Department 3
Post Office Box 518
Independence, CA 93526

Department 4
301 West Line Street
Bishop, CA 93514

To contact the Superior Court by telephone call (760) 872-3038
between the hours 1:00PM to 4:00PM

Bishop Branch
Monday through Thursday:
8:30AM-12:00PM & 1:00PM-4:00PM
8:30AM-12:00PM ; Closed at noon

Independence Branch
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday:
8:30AM-12:00PM and 1:00PM-4:00PM
8:30AM-12:00PM ; Closed at noon

Our mission is to protect the legal and constitutional rights of all; to provide an accessible forum to preside over and resolve disputes under the law; and to administer justice in a fair and impartial manner.

Credit card or E-check payments for criminal court fines and fees may be made through Official Payments.

Instructions on how to make a credit card payment.

Official Payments Corporation charges a convenience fee to use this service to make the payment.  This charge is payable to Official Payments and is separate from the primary obligation you will pay the Court.


If your case has been referred for collections to the Franchise Tax Board or to Alliance One, you must make your payment directly to those collection agencies and not through this credit card process.  If your case has been referred to either of these collection agencies, and you pay the Court by credit card, your payment may be returned to you.  The credit card fee charged is non-refundable. 

Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 1328
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-1328
(916) 845-4064

Alliance One
8589 Aero Dr
San Diego, CA 92123
(877) 541-8420


If you are coming to the Court and require accommodations due to a disability, please contact:

ADA Coordinator/Access
Lindsay Eropkin, Court Operations
voice: (760) 872-4518
fax: (760) 872-4984

The Court requires notification in advance of your appearance, or visit to the Court, to be sure the services you might request, such as sign language interpretation, assisted listening devices, courtroom accessibility or other assistance are available.  Please contact the ADA Coordinator as soon as possible to begin the process of insuring your access to the Court.

If you would like to  access the optional Judicial Council form please click on MC-410, Request for Accommodations by Persons with Disabilities and Order.


Statewide Civil Fee Schedule (01/01/2014)


No conformed copies of documents filed with the clerk's office will be returned by mail unless a self addressed, stamped envelope is provided at the time of filing.  Inyo County Superior Court does not accept payment by credit card at this time.The staff is prohibited by law from rendering legal assistance or advice in court proceedings (GC 24004, 68082). Persons appearing on their own behalf (in propria persona) are responsible for preparing and presenting their pleadings in complete and proper form without legal assistance from deputies of the Clerks Office. Questions pertaining to legal matters or the proper completion of the appropriate forms should be answered by an attorney.  Attorneys of record are required to include California State Bar numbers on all pleadings (CRC 201).

The first page of each paper shall specify immediately below the number of the case the date, time, and location, if ascertainable, of any scheduled hearing and the name of the hearing judge, if ascertainable (CRC 311).

If a check is returned unpaid to this office, a notice will be sent to the filing party stating that they have twenty (20) days in which to pay the unpaid check by cash or certified check plus the twenty-five dollars ($25.00).

Make checks payable to: The Superior Court of California, County of Inyo.

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Effective July 1st, 2010


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