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7 Critical Mistakes Judgment Creditors Make Attempting to Collect Their Judgment – Mistake #1

There are seven critical mistakes judgment creditors make when attempting to collect their judgment. Over the next 7 weeks, we’ll be discussing each mistake in detail . . . and how to correct it. Read our next blog for Mistake #2 of 7.

MISTAKE #1: CONDUCTING A DEBTOR’S EXAM (DEPOSITION) OF THE JUDGMENT DEBTOR AS SOON AS THE JUDGMENT IS AWARDED.

It is common practice, as soon as possible after the judgment is entered, for the judgment creditors to issue a Subpoena Duces Tecum to the judgment debtor to appear for a sworn debtor’s exam before a court reporter and to produce specific documents. The documents subpoenaed for production often include bank records, real estate records, corporate records including articles of incorporation with corporate amendments, annual reports, corporate resolutions, minute books, stock certificates, the stock ledger book, and all documents relating to LLCs, partnerships, trusts and other business entities. Other subpoenaed records typically include titles to vehicles, boats, planes, etc., plus any other records relative to the ownership, encumbrances, and transfers of assets.

The deposition is intended to allow the judgment creditor to discover information that will aid with the enforcement of the judgment.

The intended consequence of the early deposition typically just allows the judgment debtors and their attorney to find out what you know and where you are headed with your enforcement efforts, just by the very nature of your questions. This allows them more time to further hide their assets. Seldom, if ever, is any useful information provided.

Our experience indicates the better approach is to follow the money via deep forensic research, organized simultaneous execution of numerous discovery subpoenas, followed by in-depth analysis of the production documents, additional detailed subpoenas for specific documents based on the knowledge gained thus far. To the extent possible, simultaneous service of writs of execution, turnover orders, garnishments, charging orders, and other appropriate legal process should be executed on assets of the judgment debtor. Repeat as needed.

When all known non-exempt assets have been extracted from the judgment debtor, and if they have not already sought to settle the judgment, then serve them with an all-inclusive deposition Subpoena Duces Tecum. At the deposition, review all production including tax returns and financial statements in great detail on the record with the debtor.


Allow the debtor to commit as much perjury as he chooses to do without reacting or seeking a more truthful answer. At the conclusion of this exercise, confirm with the debtor that his statement under oath was that he had no “bank accounts.” Then, refresh his memory by producing bank records you previously obtained via subpoena and get his confirmation that this is (or was) his bank account. Repeat as necessary with each untruthful statement using the discovery you previously obtained.


I have found, on numerous occasions, that using this process to refresh the debtor’s memory three or four times often leads to a complete, or at least satisfactory, settlement.

Try it—it works!

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Testimonial

“Joe Dickerson is the industry standard. You can measure the rest by what he does, and I say that without equivocation. Joe has incredible insight into the dark world of fraud. He understands the devious ways in which people perpetrate white-collar crime.”

Jan Schlichtman
, Attorney at Law

2014-11-11T18:20:55+00:00

Jan Schlichtman
, Attorney at Law

“Joe Dickerson is the industry standard. You can measure the rest by what he does, and I say that without equivocation. Joe has incredible insight into the dark world of fraud. He understands the devious ways in which people perpetrate white-collar crime.”

” I was prepared to dismiss a federal case involving millions of dollars against a local individual who claimed to have no substantial assets. After your staff hit the records and delved into the transactions behind the transactions, you discovered the individual to actually be worth a few million dollars. We continued the case to conclusion. We were also very happy with the financial background examinations you conducted of the former directors of two failed national banks. The heart of any civil case is whether there is a pot at the end of the lawsuit. You were our lucky leprechaun in finding such pots.”

R. Michael Sentel
, Former Section Chief Legal Division, FDIC

2014-11-11T18:13:08+00:00

R. Michael Sentel
, Former Section Chief Legal Division, FDIC

” I was prepared to dismiss a federal case involving millions of dollars against a local individual who claimed to have no substantial assets. After your staff hit the records and delved into the transactions behind the transactions, you discovered the individual to actually be worth a few million dollars. We continued the case to conclusion. We were also very happy with the financial background examinations you conducted of the former directors of two failed national banks. The heart of any civil case is whether there is a pot at the end of the lawsuit. You were our lucky leprechaun in finding such pots.”

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Tim Gabelhouse
, Attorney at Law

2014-11-11T18:20:41+00:00

Tim Gabelhouse
, Attorney at Law

“As an environmental law firm, we use Joe Dickerson to locate prior business owners and do corporate genealogies. He is persistent, that’s the key to a good investigator, and he has a knack for understanding how people move money and do business. That tells him what rocks to look under. Joe is vastly superior to other investigators in two ways: he lets you know what’s going on and he’s honest with you, because he tells you if there’s really anything there worth pursuing. He is unusually thorough and creative finding people. Joe has earned his fee every time.” “If the information is to be found, then I believe that they will find it. Their service enabled me to do a much better job for my client.”

“When I was general counsel for First Interstate Bank, I used Joe Dickerson for locating assets, investigating behavior and asset discovery. He did excellent work and always got the information I needed without compromising the bank in any way. He’s more thorough and kept in better touch with me than other investigators. I’d give him a grade of 96 or 97 out of 100.”

Frank Brainerd, Retired
Banker/Attorney

2014-11-11T18:20:20+00:00

Frank Brainerd, Retired
Banker/Attorney

“When I was general counsel for First Interstate Bank, I used Joe Dickerson for locating assets, investigating behavior and asset discovery. He did excellent work and always got the information I needed without compromising the bank in any way. He’s more thorough and kept in better touch with me than other investigators. I’d give him a grade of 96 or 97 out of 100.”

“Joe is the most competent investigator I’ve ever found. He has rare ability to find hidden assets. Others claim it, Joe has it. He understands the Rules of Evidence, he knows how to talk to people to develop a fact pattern, and he has a sixth sense for fraud. Joe has unquestioned integrity and delivers value for his services.”

Andrew Quiat
, Attorney

2014-11-11T18:12:51+00:00

Andrew Quiat
, Attorney

“Joe is the most competent investigator I’ve ever found. He has rare ability to find hidden assets. Others claim it, Joe has it. He understands the Rules of Evidence, he knows how to talk to people to develop a fact pattern, and he has a sixth sense for fraud. Joe has unquestioned integrity and delivers value for his services.”

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Jim Thomas
, Prosecuting Attorney

2014-11-11T18:21:32+00:00

Jim Thomas
, Prosecuting Attorney

“They went overboard in providing excellent service. I was very pleased with what they provided for me as their end product. Financial Forensic Services really understands how a case needs to be put together in order to be presented to a jury. Their PowerPoint presentation tied everything together. It was thorough, it was concise, and it got the job done.”

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Michael Whalen, 
Businessman

2014-11-11T18:21:13+00:00

Michael Whalen, 
Businessman

“Financial Forensic Services did an excellent job in the way they executed my case. They were very straightforward. They stated what they could do for us and they did it. And, from a personal standpoint, they are excellent. Both my wife and I felt very comfortable working with them.”

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Thomas E. Root, 
Attorney

2014-11-11T18:20:05+00:00

Thomas E. Root, 
Attorney

“Joe spends the time to understand the problem from the client’s perspective and from the legal perspective. He is intelligent, tenacious, willing to work as hard as it takes, thorough, well-informed, and just awfully good at what he does.”