If you are being sued in small claims, and you do owe the other party money or property, pay what you owe and you will not have to appear in court. Be sure the court is notified in writing of such a settlement.
If you have a claim against the plaintiff (the party suing you) in connection with the same matter that his claim concerns, you may file a counterclaim. Fill out the "Defendant's Claim" form that came with the summons and return it as soon as possible to the court where the hearing is to take place.
If you do not settle the claim against you out of court, then you must appear in court at the time scheduled or the judge can rule against you. Bring with you any papers that will support your side of the dispute, and any witnesses who can speak on your behalf. (You too may subpoena witnesses for a fee.) The judge will give both you and the other party a chance to speak before he makes his decision. If the judge decides against you, you are legally bound to pay to the plaintiff whatever the judge orders you to pay. You may appeal the judge's decision.
Detailed information about the small claims procedure appears on the printed forms you must use to file your case. If you decide to use the small claims procedure you may obtain forms from the Clerk of the District Court, Small Claims Division.