How to write a letter to the court for a summons

Updated March 23, 2017

A court summons is a notice received by a person that states the person must appear in court because of a civil complaint. It lists the parties involved, the location of the court and information regarding the plaintiff's attorney. When a person receives a summons, the person is required to respond to the court in writing or appear in person. Typically the person has between 20 and 30 days to respond, depending on the state. If no response is received from the person, the judge may issue a default judgment in the plaintiff's favour. This letter is designed to state the position of the defendant in the case.

Begin with a caption at the top of the letter. This caption contains all the information relating to the case. The caption contains the name and address of the court, the names and address of the plaintiff, your name and address and the court file number.

Respond to each paragraph on the complaint summons received. A typical complaint summons has numbered paragraphs, each containing a statement the plaintiff is alleging. When responding to a summons, it is important to respond to each individual statement listed on the summons. If you agree with the statement or admit to it, you must write that on the letter. If you deny a statement, you must write "Deny" for that particular statement along with a brief explanation of why you are denying it.

Add additional paragraphs to your letter. After you respond to all paragraphs from the summons, you can add additional paragraphs explaining any additional facts or reasons in your favour.

Notarise the letter. Getting this response letter notarised is not required but is common. The letter must be signed, either way, by the maker of the letter. After the letter is signed, make a photocopy of it. Keep one copy for yourself, and the other one will be given to the court.

Send the letter to the courthouse. A response letter can be mailed or taken to the courthouse. It is vital that the letter be received by the courthouse by the due date. The summons will state how many days you have to respond.

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About the Author

Jennifer VanBaren started her professional online writing career in 2010. She taught college-level accounting, math and business classes for five years. Her writing highlights include publishing articles about music, business, gardening and home organization. She holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting and finance from St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Ind.