Several days before the summons Return Date, contact the Clerk’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office or other person authorized to serve process (licensed detective) to determine if your complaint and summons were delivered/served on the defendant(s). If they were not served, you will need to request to have a second summons (referred to as an alias summons) issued by the clerk and repeat the service process outlined earlier.
If the complaint and summons were served, you should inquire of the clerk whether or not the defendant(s) has filed an Appearance. An Appearance is a written document filed with the Clerk of Court by the defendant or an attorney representing him, indicating his intent to have a trial on the complaint plaintiff has filed.
If the defendant has filed an Appearance, the case is automatically set for trial 14 days after the Return Date If the defendant has timely filed a written Appearance -- neither plaintiff nor defendant need to appear on the summons Return Date and would need only come in 14 days later, prepared to present evidence during the bench trial heard before the Judge.
If the defendant has not filed an Appearance, you may appear in court on the Return Date to see whether the Defendant appears or not. If the Defendant does not appear, you may ask the Judge to enter a Default Judgment in your favor. The Judge may want to hear some evidence, so be prepared to explain your side of the case and bring any evidence you would have used during a trial. If you choose to appear on the Return Date, and the defendant has been served but failed to appear and/or file his written Appearance, you would then have to contact the clerk to arrange a later date to have your case called in court.