I have a Judgment; Now How do I Enforce and Collect? By: Elizabeth J. McInturff, Esq.

You’ve won a monetary award or have a confessed judgment with the court but now how do you secure payment?

Collecting the judgment is the responsibility of the plaintiff/creditor but Maryland law has a number of powerful tools to help you collect.

Enrollment: First, make sure that that your judgment is properly enrolled. The judgment is automatically recorded in the court that heard your case and acts as a lien on all of the real property owned by the debtor in that county.

You may also want to enroll the judgment in other counties or even other States in which the defendant/debtor resides or owns property. This permits those courts to enforce the judgment as if it were originally rendered by a court in that jurisdiction and gives that court the power to attach the judgment to his property in that State or County.

This may also be important in terms of lien priority. Some states hold that the first person in time to record their lien, regardless of the actual age of the lien, will generally be granted priority as against subsequent lien holders.

Term of Judgment: In Maryland, properly enrolled judgments are “good” from the date of entry through the next 12 years. If you have not (or not completely) collected on the judgment in that timeframe, you may – at any time prior to the expiration of the judgment – renew the judgment for another 12 years by filing a notice of renewal with the Clerk of Court.

Enforcement Devices: You have the right and ability to use various judgment enforcement devices, including debtor’s discovery, garnishment of wages and bank accounts, liens against property, and charging orders against the debtors’ interest in a partnership, limited liability company, corporation or other business entity. More specifically:

  • Discovery in Aid of Enforcement: In order to determine where the debtor maintains employment, property, and/or where his or her assets are located, you may obtain discovery by (i) use of depositions, interrogatories, and requests for production of documents to discover, or (ii) oral examination in front of a judge or examiner of the debtor or “any other person who may have property of the judgment debtor, be indebted for a sum certain to the judgment debtor, or have knowledge of any concealment, fraudulent transfer, or withholding of any assets belonging to the judgment debtor.”
  • Garnishment of Property: You may request that the court issue a Writ of Garnishment of property other than wages. This would include, for example, the debtor’s financial institutions. Once properly served with the Writ, the property holder (“garnishee”) is required to file an Answer with the court within 30-days disclosing whether and to what extent it is holding any money or other property. Depending on the response of the debtor and/or the garnishee, the court may, upon appropriate motion, release the funds of the garnishee.
  • Garnishment of Wages: You may request that the court issue a Writ of Garnishment of Wages to be served upon the debtor’s employer. Depending on the response of the debtor and/or the garnishee, the court may then order the employer to withhold a portion of the debtor’s wages each pay period to be paid directly to you.
  • Charging Order: Upon proper request, the court may issue a Charging Order against the debtor’s known interest in a partnership, LLC, corporation or other business entity. If the business made distributions to the partners/members, the charging order could order that the debtor’s portion be disbursed directly to you.
  • Writ of Execution: Also based on a properly written request, the Clerk of the Court where the judgment was entered or recorded shall issue a writ of execution directing the Sheriff to levy the real or personal property of the debtor.

You should carefully review and consider these options with your counsel as the passage of time or other exigent circumstances may impact your ability to recover.

If you decide that you wish to proceed with any of these options, we at JDKatz, PC are happy to assist you in that process. Please contact Elizabeth J. McInturff, Esq. today at (240) 743-5410 to discuss your matter.