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19th Judicial Circuit Court ofLake County, Illinois
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19th Judicial Circuit > Center for Self Representation > Small Claims - Preparing for your day in Court

Small Claims>Preparing for your Day in Court>


Alternatives to Court

How to Prepare, File, and Serve a Claim

Preparing for your Day in Court

Frequently Asked Questions & Additional Information

After the Judgment

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Preparing for your Day in Court

The Hearing 
Your case will be heard by a small claims judge. Each party will have a chance to tell his or her side of the story. It's important to bring your paperwork and your evidence such as photos, witnesses, bills, receipts, contracts, or anything else that will prove your case. The judge may decide the case at the time of the hearing or may reschedule your hearing to another date if both parties are not prepared. 

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How to Dress
     Dress as though you were going to an important job interview. Shorts, bare feet, tank tops, halter tops, sandals, hats and other very casual clothing is not acceptable. You will be removed from the courtroom if you violate court dress code; this may result in an arrest warrant for failure to appear or a default of your civil case. Regardless of how you personally feel about the dress code, obey the rules. You are not in court to make a symbolic statement regarding your lifestyle.

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Always arrive to court on time. If you have a 9:00 AM appearance, arrive at least twenty minutes early in order to allow for time to locate parking, clear the security check and locate the proper courtroom. In Lake County, the court is located at 18 N. County Street in Waukegan. The county parking structure is open to the public. Visitors using this lot will be charged a nominal fee. There is limited city metered parking on the street and the City of Waukegan garage is located one block north of the courthouse on County Street. Visitors using this lot will also be charged a nominal fee.

     The Pace Bus provides bus service the Lake County Courthouse via the bus stops at the corner of either Sheridan Road or Genesee Street and Washington Street. For current routes and time schedules, check the Pace Bus website at:

     The Metro Union Pacific North Line provides rail service to the Waukegan Stop. For current train routes and timetables, check the Metro Union Pacific website at: After exiting the train, walk up the hill, then go two block west to the Washington Street entrance of the Lake County Courthouse.

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Courtroom Demeanor
You and your witnesses should be quiet in court. Don't smoke or chew gum. Turn your cell phone off while in the courtroom. Do not go in and out of the courtroom while waiting for your case to be called. During your case speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard, and stay calm. Call the Judge "Your Honor." Do not interrupt the judge, the attorneys or any other party in the courtroom.

     At all times you should retain a composed and attentive posture whether you are in the audience, appearing as a witness, appearing as a criminal defendant, or a civil plaintiff or defendant.

     If you are entering a guilty plea, the court will inform you of your constitutional rights. You should carefully listen to the court's explanation in order to make sure you fully understand your rights and responsibilities. If you do not understand your rights, it is proper to ask the court for clarification.

     It is never proper to speak, even in a whisper, with friends or other audience members while court is in session.

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How Do I Get Ready For Court?
You can go to Court yourself and watch other cases before yours comes up. If you do this, you'll see how the Court works, where everybody sits and what they do and say. Plan to do this a few days or weeks before you have to go to Court. It will make you more comfortable and less nervous when you go to Court for your own case.

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Where is the Court?

Nineteenth Judicial Circuit
Lake County Courthouse
18 N. County Street
Waukegan, IL 60085

Small Claims Court
Courtroom 306 Annex
3rd floor of the Court Annex- (Washington Street entrance above the Circuit Clerk’s Office)
18 N. County Street
Waukegan, Illinois.

Click here for maps and directions to our facilities

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Kids' Waiting Area
     Kids’ Korner
is a waiting room for children in the Lake County Courthouse. Its mission is to provide a safe and fun waiting area to children who are in the courthouse to testify in court or whose parents or guardians are conducting court business. Children ranging in age from 2 to 12 years are welcome.

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Helpful Phone Numbers:

Clerk of the Circuit Court: (847) 377-3380

Court Administration: (847) 377-3600

 -  Small Claims Clerk: (847) 377-3251
 -  Circuit Clerk, Civil: (847) 377-3206
 -  Circuit Clerk, Appeals: (847) 377-3229

 -  Law Library/Legal Self-Help Center:
                                      (847) 377-2800
 -  Arbitration Center: (847) 360-5747

State's Attorney Office: (847) 377-3000

Lake Co Bar Assoc. Volunteer Attorneys Program: (847) 244-3140

Public Defender: (847) 377-3360

Prairie State Legal Services:
(800) 942-3940

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We recommend you continue to the
Frequently Asked Questions & Additional Information"
section for additional information.

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