Any party may ask a lawyer about the case, but a lawyer may not represent either party in court at the Small Claims trial. Generally, after judgment and on appeal, any party may be represented by a lawyer.
If you do not speak English, you may take a family member or friend to court with you. The court keeps a list of interpreters who charge a fee for services. It is up to you to make those arrangements. If an interpreter is needed but not available, the court must postpone your hearing one time only so that you have time to get one.
You may consult with the Small Claims Advisor for free by calling (209) 473-6463 between the hours of 12 noon to 5:00pm Monday through Thursday.
As an alternative to going to Court, you may contact The Mediation Center of San Joaquin County at (209) 474-8794 to try to resolve the matter between the parties with an impartial third party mediator. The Mediation Center is your non-profit community mediation center. Mediation of small claims disputes is low-cost or free, depending on ability to pay.