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small claims appeal

I recently won a small claims case against a former tenant who moved out months ago.  It's a pretty open/shut case since the tenants owed 1 month's rent for breaking the lease early, as well as damages & cleaning which are well documented (before/after photos, invoices, etc).  The tenant has appealed to district court in Wake County, NC and has requested a jury.  Since district court is more formal, should I hire my attorney to present the case?  The tenant would bear the cost of this when we win.  Her appeal is borderline frivolous.  The tenant claims she was afraid to live in the townhome due to nearby criminal activity.  This isn't a valid defense to avoid what she owes (nor did the neighbor in my other unit next door ever say anything about safety issues).  Is there a way to have the case arbitrated and avoid district court?  Any and all suggestions are appreciated.

I should also mention that these tenants are able to pay what they owe, they just choose not to.  I will be able to collect when this is done.
I am not sure about NC but in PA if a tenant goes the appeal rate, they must post with the courts a certain percentage of what is owed. I think at this point, I would probably get an attorney. It could be the make it or break it of a win.
In Wake County, NC some cases go to arbitration before district court, which is where this case is headed.
Many attorneys will offer a free consult. Maybe just talking to one for a bit will shed some light for you.
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