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  • My Legal Briefcase

    The Courthouse Experience – Straight from the Horse’s Mouth Part Three
    Posted: 2011-01-27 06:35:45

    By Laurie Lonsdale

    You’ve arrived at the courthouse but suddenly you worry you might have taken a wrong turn along the way because the security checkpoint inside the door looks more like you’ve walked into an airport.  Unfortunately, you’re not on your way to an island paradise somewhere in the Caribbean, but don’t be alarmed.

    Not all, but some courthouses today are protected with security systems that indeed resemble those found in airports, whereby you place your purse or briefcase or tote bag onto a conveyor belt that guides it through an X-ray to verify the contents.  Meanwhile, you will be asked to empty your pockets into a tray and walk through a scanning device that detects metal objects.   Be sure to leave any sprays and sharp items at home, as they run the risk of confiscation.  Ladies, this includes even the tiniest of manicure scissors sometimes found inside some make-up kits.  On the other side of the security checkpoint, your belongings will be returned to you and you can proceed to the information counter.

    If you’re venturing to the Toronto Small Claims Court at 47 Sheppard Avenue, you won’t find such a security system.   However, you will have to take the elevator to the third floor of the building for Small Claims Court.

    At the information counter, state the nature of your business and ask what to do and where to go.  Whether you’re filing a claim, defence, or motion, the clerk will issue a ticket and will point you in the right direction.

    An added bonus of the Toronto Small Claims court is that it offers a pro bono (free) office with duty counsel, where you can obtain legal advice regarding your case.  It’s a wonderful public service that can help in making your legal woes a little easier to deal with.  Whether you plan to visit the office for legal assistance or not, eventually you will need to obtain or file paperwork with a court clerk at one of the administration windows.

    Take your ticket and proceed to the designated waiting area.  Prepare to pass the time until the number or letter of your ticket begins to flash on several overhead digital monitors.  This can be a lengthy wait, and sometimes a combination of flashing letters and numbers can vary so it’s important to pay attention.  When your ticket is displayed, a second flashing number accompanied by an arrow will indicate the administration window you are expected to report to, as well as the direction you should walk in order to find it.  Don’t keep the clerk waiting, or you might be skipped in favour of the next number.

    Now you’re at the window, face to face with someone who can finally give you the answers and help you seek.  So…… what should you ask or tell them?

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