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1. Small Claims_de novo appeal to district court_informal process
The district court did not err in a de novo trial from small claims court where defendant apparently contended that the court did not make adequate conclusions and speculated that the court based its decision on a theory of fraud that was not pled with particularity. Defendant does not explain how the claim involved fraud, a complaint in a small claims action need be in no particular form, the legislature intended the informal processes of the small claims court to continue in the de novo appeal, and the district court on a de novo appeal has the discretion to order further pleadings or to try the case as pled.
2. Small Claims_appeal to district court_no answer
There was no error in a district court trial de novo from small claims court where the court found that no answer was filed by defendant, as no answer is required in small claims (no response is a general denial). Defendant does not argue that the finding is erroneous or explain how he was harmed.
3. Courts_district_finding_supported by evidence
The evidence supported the district court's finding and conclusion regarding disputed funds paid from a closing under the belief that there was a valid judgment on the record.
4. Judges_judicial notice_not requested_necessary information not supplied
The trial court did not abuse its discretion by not taking judicial notice that judgments are public records that could have been checked by a closing attorney where defendant did not argue that he requested that the court take judicial notice or that he supplied the court with the necessary information.
Judge TYSON dissenting.
Douglas S. Harris, for defendant-appellant.
No brief filed for plaintiff-appellee.
On 1 July 2002, plaintiff Jones filed a small claims complaint for money owed on an Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) form, alleging that he had sent $2,000 to defendant in error. On 3 September 2002, the small claims court, using an AOC form Judgment, agreed that the plaintiff has proved the case by the greater weight of the evidence, and ordered defendant Ratley and Best (hereinafter Ratley) to pay plaintiff $2,000. Ratley appealed to the district court and on 27 November 2002, the district court arbitrator entered an arbitration award and judgment in favor of Jones. Ratley requested a trial de novo in district court, which was held on 3 March 2003. After the court awarded $2,000 to Jones, Ratley appealed. We affirm.
The record includes no transcript, but does contain documentary evidence. From these documents, it appears that in 1997 Ratley sued Jones in Randolph County for $2,000, seeking payment for work Ratley alleged he completed for Jones. Ratley contends in his brief that Jones's mortgage company contacted him at the time and requested that he drop the suit so that Jones's closing could proceed. In return, Ratley would be paid $2,000 out of the closing. Ratley introduced a letter he wrote to the mortgage company on 5 July 2000 indicating he would drop his suit upon receipt of the $2,000. However, the record indicates that the case was dismissed on 13 June 2000 by entry of an order entitled Order of Dismissal (Pursuant to Rule 41 (b)). N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 41(b) (2003) (involuntary dismissal for failure of the plaintiff to prosecute). The date of the order preceded by several weeks the letter to the mortgage company, when theplaintiff [Ratley] informed the court that he did not wish to proceed. The current case arose when Jones sued Ratley in 2002, claiming that he sent $2,000 to Ratley in error.
 Defendant contends here that the court erred by making no findings as to what theory of law supported its judgment. In his brief, defendant appears to be arguing actually that the court did not make adequate conclusions of law, as it did not specify its legal theory, but he cites no authority for this proposition. Defendant then speculates that the trial court based its decision on a theory of fraud and argues that fraud was not pled with particularity by plaintiff here. Although defendant cites cases supporting the argument that fraud must be pled with particularity, he does not explain how this claim involved fraud. To the contrary, defendant acknowledges that [p]laintiff speaks of an error, but never really says that he was defrauded. Thus we decline to hold that those cases apply. In addition, the complaint in a small claim action need be in no particular form, but is sufficient if in a form which enables persons of common understanding to know what is meant. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-216 (2003). Furthermore, in a trial de novo on appeal to the district court, the judge may order repleading or further pleading . . . or may try [the case] on the pleadings as filed. G.S. § 7A-229 (2003) (emphasis added). Thus, the statute leaves it to the discretion of the court to decide whether the pleadings need detail.
Defendant also fails to cite any legal authority supporting his assertion that the trial court must provide more detailed legalconclusions in an appeal to the district court from small claims court. While Rule 52 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure requires that the trial courts in general state conclusions of law separately, we believe the General Assembly has indicated that these types of formalities do not apply in small claims proceedings, including the de novo appeal in district court. The simple forms and procedures of small claims court were devised by the legislature to provide citizens with an expedient, inexpensive, speedy forum in which they can process litigation involving small sums without obtaining a lawyer. Duke Power Co. v. Daniels, 86 N.C. App. 469, 472, 358 S.E.2d 87, 89 (1987). In order to facilitate simplified litigation, many of the rules of civil procedure do not apply to small claims court. See, e.g., G.S. § 7A-216 (2003) (no particular form of complaint required); G.S. § 7A-220 (2003) (no required pleadings other than complaint); G.S. § 7A-222 (2003 ) (rules of evidence generally are observed). Thus, in the absence of any statute or other authority suggesting that legal theories be formally described in these cases, we decline to create such a requirement.
Further, reading the statutory provisions governing appeals from small claims, G.S. § § 7A-225, et seq., in pari materia, we conclude that unless otherwise specified, the legislature intended that the informal processes of the small claims court continue in the de novo appeal. In this regard, G.S. § 7A -229 provides: The district judge before whom the action is tried may order repleading or further pleading by some or all of the parties; may try the action on stipulation as to the issue; or may try it on thepleadings as filed. Here, the district court did not require further pleadings and did make findings of fact and conclusions of law, indicating that plaintiff over paid defendant in an amount not less than $2,000 and that plaintiff was entitled to recover that sum plus interest. The documents support the findings, which in turn support the conclusions and the judgment. We conclude that the court acted within the statutory process and properly exercised its discretion, and we decline to disturb the judgment on this basis.
 Defendant also argues that the court erred in finding that no answer or other responsive pleading was filed by defendant, as no answer is required in a proceeding appealed from the magistrate's court. As noted above, in a small claims action, no pleadings beyond a complaint are required and no response is considered a general denial. G.S. § 7A-220 (2003). Defendant does not argue that the finding was erroneous, nor does he explain how the court's finding harmed him or influenced the case. We overrule this assignment of error.
 Defendant also asserts that the court erred by finding that plaintiff's closing attorney gave defendant $2,000 under the belief that there was a valid judgment on the record. Defendant contends that there was no basis to support this finding. A judge is subject to reversal for abuse of discretion only upon a showing by a litigant that the challenged actions are manifestly unsupported by reason. Clark v. Clark, 301 N.C. 123, 129, 271 S.E.2d 58, 63 (1980). Here, we conclude that evidence did support the court's finding and conclusion, specifically the letter fromdefendant to the plaintiff's mortgage company promising to dismiss the suit in return for $2,000 when it had already been dismissed. Defendant's argument has no merit.
 Defendant further argues that the court erred by not taking judicial notice of the fact that judgments are public records and plaintiff's closing attorney thus had constructive notice of the status of any judgment. We disagree. Rule 201 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence clearly states that judicial notice is discretionary: A court may take judicial notice, whether requested or not. G.S. § 8C-1, Rule 201 (c) (2003) (emphasis added). Judicial notice is mandatory only where requested by a party and supplied with the necessary information. G.S. § 8C-1, Rule 201 (d). Here, defendant does not argue that he requested the court take judicial notice or that he supplied the court with the necessary information. Thus, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by failing to take judicial notice.
Finally, defendant asserts that no theory of law exists which would support an award for plaintiff and that the court erred in not reaching this conclusion. We have discussed the essence of this argument above, under defendant's first assignment of error, and for the same reasons, we find it lacks merit.
Judge BRYANT concurs.
Judge TYSON dissents.
TYSON, Judge dissenting.
The trial court's Judgment fails to: (1) set forth properconclusions of law; (2) make a finding of fact regarding whether plaintiff was obligated to pay $2,000.00 to Ratley; and (3) address whether plaintiff should have had notice of the dismissal taken by in the earlier action. I would reverse and remand the trial court's judgment. I respectfully dissent.
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