The Linn County District Court has instituted a new protocol for small claims mediations and trials, effective starting Tuesday, March 7, 2017. The intent of the change is to make the process run more smoothly for pro se litigants, who make up the majority of litigants in small claims court.
Under the new protocol, trial dates will no longer be scheduled on the same date as mediation. Mediation will be scheduled first and the parties who don’t settle in mediation will be directed to a pretrial conference conducted by a magistrate immediately following the mediation. At the pretrial conference the magistrate will set the trial on a Thursday two weeks out and discuss with the litigants the rules of evidence and procedures which will be followed at the trial. In addition to setting the trial date, the primary purpose of the pretrial conference is to facilitate the conduct of the trial by providing pro se litigants in particular key information about what evidence can be presented at trial and how the litigants should conduct themselves during trial.
Mediations will be set on Tuesdays according to the schedule at this link: NEW SMALL CLAIMS SCHEDULING INFO