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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Superior Court (Court) will conduct virtual Small Claims hearings. Participants can attend the hearing remotely by video conferencing using the free Microsoft Teams App OR by telephone.
If you have a small claims hearing scheduled and need an interpreter, complete the Interpreter Request/Cancellation form (SDSC Form #ADM-348 ) as far in advance of your hearing as possible. The form can be brought to the business office during business hours or mailed to the court location noted on your paperwork.
The court will try to schedule an interpreter for the date and time of your hearing at no cost to you, but cannot guarantee that one will be available.
Failure to provide the court with adequate notice may result in your matter being continued.
Days before the hearing, download the free Microsoft Teams App on your mobile device or computer. See instructions below for how to set up your device or computer with Teams to join by video conference.
All evidence to be reviewed and considered by the Court must be submitted and received by the court at least ten (10) Court days before your scheduled hearing date. DO NOT SEND ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS. Evidence submitted less than ten (10) court days before the hearing may result in the judicial officer not considering the items. Please note: Do not submit your exhibits at the time of filing a new claim. Exhibits received without a trial date having been scheduled will not be accepted. The court will only accept exhibits for cases that have a pending trial date scheduled.
Evidence submitted to the Court for consideration must be served to all parties named in the case. Any evidence not provided to the opposing party may result in the judicial officer being unable to consider the item.
Only trial exhibits will be accepted via the e-mail addresses listed above. You may not submit filings such as a Request to Postpone Trial, Request to Dismiss, Declaration of Military Status, Authorization to Appear, Change of Address, Interpreter Request/Cancellation Form, etc. or any other submission to the e-mail mailbox listed above. Any submission other than trial exhibits will not be processed and must be filed in the Small Claims Business Office.
Pursuant to San Diego Local Rule 2.5.6, “…Exhibits must be legible and complete, and not require use of another resource to hear or view the exhibit.” The following are specifically prohibited and ARE NOT ALLOWED for exhibit submission:
Compact Discs (CDs)
Digital Video Discs (DVDs)
Other types of digital storage devices
USB flash drive (thumb drive)
External file-sharing links such as Google Drive.
E-mail attachments are restricted to 10MB. If your file is larger than 10 MB, you will need to submit a compressed file or send hard copies via U.S. Mail to the court.
If any exhibit is more than one page, each page shall be numbered in sequential order, e.g., 1, 2, 3, and so forth.
Evidence may be submitted to the case location that the matter is assigned to by U.S. mail or e-mail. E-mail submissions may be made to the court location to which your case is assigned using the following e-mail addresses designated for the location:
Your email submission of evidence must include the following (see sample below):
The subject line of the e-mail submission must include (i) case number, (ii) the date of the hearing, and (iii) the name of the party submitting the evidence.
The body of your e-mail must state that you certify (state that the information is true) that you have served the evidence on the other side.
Failure to provide the identifying information above, or failure to provide your evidence to the other party could result in your evidence not being considered by the Court, or could result in your hearing being continued to allow for your evidence to be resubmitted with the proper identifying information or to allow the other side time to review the evidence and respond. Please submit one e-mail only with all of your evidence. There is no guarantee that the Court will be able to access or view evidence submitted by e-mail. To assist in the Court’s ability to access and view evidence submitted by e-mail, it is preferred that the evidence submitted be in PDF or JPEG format.
Joining the hearing
From your device or computer, refer to the list of Small Claims departments below. Click on the Teams link assigned to the department that will hear your case.
Join the hearing from a room with no or minimal background noise.
Join the hearing 30 minutes before the start time indicated in your hearing notice so the courtroom clerk can check you in.
Tips for participants who join the Teams meeting (video conferencing)
Click on the Teams link assigned to the department that will hear your case. Refer to the instructions on setting up Teams on your device or computer if you have not done so.
Teams will launch and show the following screen. Fill in the Enter name field with 'First Name Last Name - Party description' (for example: 'Amy Smith - Petitioner' or 'Robert Jones - Attorney for Petitioner'). Click Join Now and ensure you have muted your mic before joining as pictured.
All participants will wait separately in a virtual lobby. You will see a screen indicating 'Someone in the meeting should let you in soon'. The courtroom clerk will admit each participant into the hearing when ready to do so. Please wait patiently and do not exit the lobby if you are not immediately admitted. If you have joined the meeting early, or if the Court is delayed, the lobby may time out. If this occurs, please re-join the meeting.
After the courtroom clerk admits you into the meeting, you will hear and see the courtroom and other participants. The courtroom clerk may ask you to confirm your name and address. Please unmute your mic and enable your camera.
Tips for participants who join the meeting by phone (teleconferencing)
Alternatively, participants can join the hearing by telephone, by dialing the conference number assigned to the department conducting the hearing, conference ID followed by #.
Muting and unmuting your phone:
Press * 6 to mute or unmute your phone, or if your phone has a mute button, you may use that instead.
The Court can also mute participants who have joined the hearing by telephone.
Participants should not place the Court on hold, or put the phone on speakerphone, as this will decrease audio quality. If a participant is experiencing poor video quality during a hearing or cannot maintain a connection through the desktop app or web version, they can join via the teleconferencing option.
ADVISORY: Several court hearings are being conducted virtually. Virtual hearings SHALL NOT be photographed, recorded (audio or video), or rebroadcast without prior written judicial authorization consistent with California Rules of Court, rule 1.150, and San Diego Superior Court General Order of the Presiding Department, Order No. 010121-02. Any unauthorized recording, photography, or rebroadcast without prior written judicial authorization may be a basis for a citation for contempt of court or an order imposing monetary or other sanctions as provided by law. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 1.150(f).)
Small Claims Departments' Teams Links and Conference Phone Numbers
MS Teams Link
MS Teams Conference Number
Exhibit Email Address
(Please read important information above on submitting evidence)
IMPORTANT: Please be advised that the MS Teams Links may change. Please check and refer to this page on the date of your hearing to ensure that you are using the most current department conference link or telephone conference ID number.
Procedures During the Hearing
At the beginning of a calendar being called, the Judges will set forth guidelines for the proceedings. Listen carefully for further direction.
Hearings may be called out in case number order or by party names, so be sure to pay attention as the calendar is being called. You will need to answer “present” at the appropriate time.
All participants shall place their microphones on mute unless they are speaking or wish to make an objection.
All efforts shall be undertaken not to interrupt other speakers during the hearing unless it is necessary to assert an objection. Please do not interrupt when another party or the judge is speaking.
If an interpreter is necessary, all participants shall speak slowly, in short, complete sentences or questions, and allow time for translation. No one shall respond to a question posed by another participant until the question has been translated.
If an objection is made, all participants must stop speaking and wait for the Court’s ruling on the objection. An attorney or self-represented party can ask to be heard on the objection after it is made. The Court may also request a response to an objection.
Where an objection is made, and discussions are required in the absence of the witness, the witness may be asked to mute their computer or otherwise be virtually ejected from the meeting space, and invited to re-join the meeting when the objection has been addressed.
All participants are required to identify anyone who may be observing the proceedings with them. This is essential to ensure the credibility of testimony.
The Court will hold all hearings to a strict time estimate. Thus, participants are encouraged to not to repeat arguments included in their written pleadings already submitted to the Court.
Once the Court has heard from all litigants, the matter will be submitted for decision. Once submitted, the Court will make a ruling, and no further argument shall be considered.
Participants SHALL NOT record the video conference. ADVISORY: This virtual hearing SHALL NOT be photographed, recorded (audio or video), or rebroadcast without prior written judicial authorization consistent with California Rules of Court, rule 1.150, and San Diego Superior Court General Order of the Presiding Department, Order No. 010120-02. Please be advised that any unauthorized recording, photography, or rebroadcast without prior written judicial authorization may be a basis for a citation for contempt of court or an order imposing monetary or other sanctions as provided by law. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 1.150(h).)
Guidelines for Participants
For the purpose of this guidance, a participant includes a party, an attorney, or a witness.
This information is provided as guidance. The conduct of the hearing remains a matter for the presiding judicial officer. Participants should follow any direction given by the judicial officer.
The behavior, manner, and presentation of a participant should be the same as if they were attending the Court hearing in person. This includes addressing the Judge correctly as “Your Honor” and addressing Counsel politely and courteously.
The participant will ensure that there will be no interruptions or distractions for the duration of their appearance at the hearing.
If participants are unable to give uninterrupted evidence, they should advise the courtroom clerk or their attorney as soon as practical.
A participant should have a copy of all pleadings and documents necessary for the hearing.
A participant that plans to examine a witness must ensure the witness has a copy of documents to which they may be referred.
Participants are not permitted to use or access their phones during the hearing except to communicate with their attorney of record as permitted by the judge.
Safety in virtual hearings
Litigants should be mindful of their personal safety when participating in virtual hearings, including by considering the following:
If joining the hearing using video, consider turning on background blur, or sitting in front of a neutral background such as a blank wall, window blinds or door.
If there are safety concerns about appearing with video turned on, the Judge may permit litigants to participate in the hearing using only audio.
If joining a Microsoft Teams hearing by telephone, participants may switch caller ID off before dialing the conference number. If the caller ID is on, participants should be aware that their phone number will be displayed in the Microsoft Teams meeting to others participating using the desktop app, web browser version, or smartphone app (but will not be visible to other participants also dialing in on the telephone). Switching caller ID off means that only a random 9-digit number will be shown.
Be sure to set aside time to participate in the hearing distraction-free and without children present.
Use a headset or headphones that have a microphone (such as most headphones that come with smartphones), to avoid echo and increase audio quality. Ensure you select the headphones in the settings for ‘Devices’ as the microphone and speaker. If you have the volume turned up and audio coming through the speakers of your device, it may be picked up by your microphone and create an echo. If other participants are complaining of echo and you cannot hear any echo, it is likely that you are the cause.
Ensure you are in a quiet, distraction-free location with good lighting and minimal background noise.
Participants should have their microphone muted, and cameras switched off when they are not speaking or not required to be seen, as directed by the Judge.
If appearing by telephone, do not place the Court on hold. Speak directly into the phone or headset. Do not place the phone on speakerphone, as it will decrease audio quality.
Ensure devices are fully charged before the hearing and have chargers nearby. Videoconferencing can drain the battery of devices.
We recognize that these are new procedures and challenging times for everyone. We are here to help and do our best to make sure your case is timely heard. With practice and patience, we will all become more proficient with the new technologies and platforms. Thank you.