Certain cases will be referred to mediation prior to a hearing before the judge. This allows the parties to try to settle the case without a hearing. Even if the parties agree to settle out of court, the plaintiff may ask the defendant to pay the court costs. If they cannot agree to settle, the judge will instruct both parties about courtroom procedure and hear the arguments presented by both sides.
The plaintiff and defendant may question or dispute each other's testimony during the hearing. When both parties have completed their presentations, the judge will make a decision. The judge may grant an award of monetary damages to the plaintiff, to the defendant or both.
The plaintiff must appear in court on the day of the hearing, or the judge may:
- Allow the defendant to present testimony and give a judgment, without hearing from the plaintiff.
- Postpone the case until a later date.
- Dismiss the case.
The defendant must appear in court on the day of the hearing, or the judge may grant a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff.