Baldwin & Briscoe P.C.
301-862-4400
22335 Exploration Drive Ste. 2030
Lexington Park, MD 20653
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I Won My Case and got a Judgment, but the 

Defendant Didn’t Pay - now what?

Collecting on Judgments in the State of Maryland

 

  Bob loans Larry $1,500.  Larry promises to pay him back in three months.  After six months goes by without payment, Bob sues Larry and gets a judgment.  Now, another six months have gone by and Bob has his judgment, but not his money.  What can Bob do to get paid?

 

  It is rather pointless to go through the trouble of suing someone and getting a judgment against them if you are not going to get the money you are suing for.  The truth is that many judgments which are entered by courts around the country every day will never get paid in full, and many will never even be partially paid.  According to some estimates, 79 percent of judgments are never collected.

 

  Judgment collection is an area of law that many attorneys avoid.   It is technical, but once you have an understanding of the rules, it is relatively straightforward and not difficult.  At Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C., we’d be happy to meet with you and develop a strategy for collecting on your judgment.  If you wish to hire us to handle the collection, you can sit back and relax while we do the heavy lifting.  In some case, we’ll handle judgment collection on a contingent basis, while other times judgments are handled on an hourly basis.  The specific circumstances surrounding your judgment will dictate which fee structure applies to your case.

 

  There are several tools that are available to plaintiffs who seek to enforce a judgment in the state of Maryland.  Knowing how to use these tools effectively will provide you with the best chance of getting paid. 

 

  The first thing you should know is that you have to wait at least ten days before you can take steps to enforce your judgment.  This is called an “automatic stay of enforcement.”  A court may order that a judgment be “stayed” beyond the ten days in some circumstances.  When an appeal is taken, there are specific steps that the appealing party may take to stay a judgment.  In some cases, the appellant may be required to file a bond or other security with the clerk of the court to protect the other party against loss that results from the delay in enforcement.  Many times, the court will condition a stay beyond the ten days provided for by law upon the filing of a bond or other security.

 

  After obtaining a judgment, the plaintiff often will want to conduct discovery in aid of enforcement.  This allows the plaintiff or “judgment creditor” to find out information concerning the defendant’s (“judgment debtor”) financial income and assets which can be used to satisfy the judgment.  In the District Court, there are two methods by which the judgment creditor can conduct discovery.  The first is by use of Interrogatories in aid of Execution.  The judgment creditor can send the defendant written questions that the defendant is required to answer.  These questions generally include requests for information about the employment, assets, and banking of the defendant.  The second, and more effective means of discovery is by way of an oral examination.

 

  An oral examination takes place in court, similar to a trial.  In most cases, however, the judge will swear the defendant in and then allow the plaintiff to ask questions of the defendant outside of the courtroom.  This is to protect the privacy of the defendant’s financial information.  In addition to the defendant, the plaintiff can request an oral examination of a third party if it is probable that the defendant is indebted to that person, or that they are holding property belonging to the defendant.  An oral examination is requested by the plaintiff by filling out a court form and filing it with the clerk.  There is a small fee associated with this.  Once the plaintiff requests an oral examination, the clerk will generate an order and the plaintiff must personally serve the defendant with the order by the deadline set out in the order.  Only if the plaintiff obtains service on the defendant will the plaintiff be able to conduct the oral examination.

 

  If the defendant fails to answer Interrogatories in aid of Execution, or fails to show up for an oral exam, the plaintiff may request authorization to file a request for a Show Cause Order.  There is a court form to request a Show Cause Order.  Once the court generates the Show Cause order, the plaintiff must then serve the defendant with the order.  The Show Cause order will have a court date.  The defendant will have to show up on that court date and tell the judge why he or she didn’t comply with the Oral Examination or answer the Interrogatories in aid of Execution.  If the judge signs the Show Cause Order, and the plaintiff properly serves it, and the defendant fails to appear, the plaintiff can then request that the court issue a body attachment, authorizing the sheriff to take the defendant into custody and bring him before the court.

 

  Once he has the information concerning the defendant’s assets and employment, the judgment creditor can take steps to enforce the judgment.  Depending on what type of assets are owned by the judgment debtor, the judgment creditor has various tools at his disposal.  Let’s see how we can get Bob paid!

 

  Generally, assets and income are seized by the issuance of a writ.  There are various types of writs which the court will issue to help the plaintiff get his money.  A writ is issued when the plaintiff fills out a request for the writ and files it with the clerk.  Generally, a small fee will apply.  Let’s look at the specifics:

 

  A writ of execution is an order directing the sheriff to levy upon specific property of the judgment debtor.  The plaintiff can seek a writ of execution on either real property, or personal property that is owned by the defendant.  If a writ is sought with respect to real property, the plaintiff must first record the judgment as a lien in the Circuit Court. 

 

  A writ of garnishment is an order used to obtain property of the debtor that is in the hands of a third party.  This means that if the debtor has money in a bank account, or a lawn mower that has been lent to his neighbor, you can seek to obtain that property in order to satisfy the judgment. 

 

  A writ of wage garnishment is used to attach wages that are earned by the defendant.  When a writ of wage garnishment is issued, the defendant’s employer will send a check to the judgment creditor on a weekley, bi-weekly, or monthly basis.  This payment is then credited against whatever is owed on the judgment.

 

  It is the plaintiff or judgment creditor’s job to keep track of what payments are made on the judgment.  Judgments are generally subject to 10% interest per annum.  Judgments based on rent for a residential premises are subject to 6% interest per annum.  The judgment creditor is required to complete and mail to the garnishee and the judgment debtor a statement disclosing the payments made and the manner in which they were credited within 15 days after each month in which any payment is received on the judgment. 

 

  If the judgment-debtor has an interest in a partnership, the judgment creditor may ask the court for a charging order, charging the partnership interest of the judgment debtor with the payment of all amounts due on the judgment.  The court may order further relief, including the appointment of a receiver for the judgment debtor’s share of the partnership profits and any other money that is or becomes due to the judgment debtor by reason of their partnership interest.

 

  Knowing about these tools and how to use them can mean the difference between having a piece of paper showing that you are owed money and getting paid.  If you are owed money on a judgment, come talk with us.  We’ll be happy to help you.

 

The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice.  The experienced attorneys at Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. can assist you if you are trying to collect on a judgment.  Call today to schedule a consultation. 


TThe Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. also offers these services:

Bankruptcy and ForeclosureBusiness LawCivil LitigationCriminal DefenseFamily LawGovernment Contracts LawIntellectual Property, Personal InjuryReal Estate, and Wills, Trusts, & Estates

 

Contact Us

The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C.

22335 Exploration Drive

Suite 2030

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-862-4400 Phone

301-862-3009 Fax

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Our Attorneys

Samuel C.P. Baldwin, Jr., Esq.

Janice Briscoe, Esq.

Richard J. Steinmetz Jr., Esq.

David J. Hebb, Esq.

Sandra Kaufman Jonasen, Esq.


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With an office conveniently located in Lexington Park, The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Stienmetz, P.C. serves clients in the counties and cities of Lexington Park, Leonardtown, Hollywood, Mechanicsville, Loveville, Helen, Breton Bay, Chaptico, Charlotte Hall, Golden Beach, Avenue, La Plata, Waldorf, Newburg, Port Tobacco, Port Charles, Solomons Island, Prince Frederick, Chesapeake Shores, Hughesville, Benedict, Nanjemoy, Lusby, Port Republic, St. Mary's County, Charles County, Calvert County, Prince George's County, Southern Maryland.


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