All posts by Joe Dickerson

THE DIAGNOSTIC APPROACH TO JUDGMENT ENFORCEMENT

By: Joe H. Dickerson, CFE

It’s a well-established fact that 80 percent of the civil money judgments entered in courts in the United States are never collected. This is a shameful failure of our justice systems.
The first question should be “WHY?”

For many years, collection work was considered to be “dirty work” that was beneath “good lawyers.” Fortunately, today we have some excellent attorneys whose specialty is creditors’ rights, which includes judgment enforcement. There are other attorneys and professionals who also provide various levels of judgment enforcement services.

So why are 80 percent of judgments never enforced? In my opinion, based on over 55 years of relevant experience enforcing judgments and teaching the subject to attorneys and other professionals, the skill sets and tools necessary to effectively enforce judgments are not currently sufficiently understood and implemented. In this era of sophisticated fraudsters, we must have many more well-trained attorneys and other professionals to improve the judgment enforcement rate above the current 20 percent.

At Financial Forensic Services, we believe that, like our children, each case is unique and must be respected and supported in its own way. Every judgment enforcement case is different, and every case management and recovery plan is unique. We believe, regardless of the debtors’ position, that successful asset recovery is possible in appropriate cases. We believe it is our job to accomplish that for our clients. We carefully screen our potential clients and their cases to ensure we accept the appropriate case, and then give them the service and attention they deserve. Therefore, we only accept about 25 percent of the cases that we review.

Financial Forensic Services (FFS) has developed a diagnostic and prescriptive approach to our cases that includes consulting and implementation of the Prescribed Judgment Enforcement Process. My experience using the diagnostic and prescriptive approach has allowed us to make recoveries for our clients of up to quadruple the national average of 20 percent, and up to 100 percent.

THE DIAGNOSTIC PROCESS
Our Diagnostic and Prescriptive approach to judgment enforcement is analogous to the diagnostic and prescriptive approach to treating a medical condition.

For example: You wake up in the middle of the night with chest pains. You take whatever you have on hand, antacids or over-the-counter pain pills, but they provide no relief. You decide to call you family doctor’s 24-hour number and speak to the on-call doctor. He asks a few questions and quickly tells you that you should either call an ambulance or have your spouse get you to the emergency room right away. He says this could be serious and could quickly get worse without attention.

At the hospital, several diagnostic tests are run, and the diagnosis is that you a serious heart condition that requires immediate surgery. Your life depends on the success of that operation. You want the best heart surgeon you can get. You are fortunate to find the perfect expert for your diagnosed condition. You undergo successful emergency surgery. The doctor then prescribes your recovery plan, including the proper medication and lifestyle changes to ensure a bright future for you. Now life is good. This much like the diagnostic and prescriptive judgment enforcement plan we develop with our staff of Judgment Enforcement experts for each case.

The FFS Diagnostic Process includes a four-page Case History Intake Questionnaire and an in-depth interview with the prospective client. We take the time to get to know our clients and understand their concerns and needs. We listen intently to understand their pain, situation, and goals. There is always significant pain involved when you are the victim of a multi-million-dollar fraud, embezzlement, or contract dispute. There may be significant family stress when a loved one dies, and it is learned there has been tampering with the will or the trust, and significant funds or heirlooms have been misappropriated. Nothing brings out the worst in some families like death or divorce. We understand the personal hurt and strife in addition to the financial loss. Only when we truly understand this background, in each case, can we develop and implement, with our client’s complete support, a financial forensic diagnostic process.

It is upon this process that our prescriptive process, the Case Management Plan, is based. Both are necessary to put together a client’s properly-staffed recovery team. This will include your case manager, research experts, and senior analyst. After the initial forensic research is finished and the report is completed, the recommendations are developed, the documented findings are reviewed with our client, and, if appropriate, with their attorney. This report is the framework for the prescription for recovering our clients’ losses. This, of course, is changed and updated as new information and facts are developed.

Look at a model using the prescriptive process, the process used by the Forensic Implementation Team to recover the clients’ losses and satisfy their court-ordered money judgment.
Remember : Winning the Judgment is NOT Justice; Recovering on the Judgment is JUSTICE!

Your Roadmap to Advanced Judgment Enforcement: Using
Financial Forensic Research to Find Your Debtor’s Bank
Accounts, Which Can Lead You to Hidden or Diverted
Assets Around the World.

The advanced judgment enforcement process, using financial forensic research, is initially directed at finding bank accounts so you can effectively follow the money. Once you find your target’s bank accounts, there is a wealth of information there to follow the money both in and out of the accounts. Following the money to reach the assets is what judgment enforcement is all about, so you can liquidate those assets and satisfy the judgment.

OBTAIN THE PSYCHOGRAPHICS OF THE JUDGMENT DEBTOR

By: Joe H. Dickerson, CFE

Your chances of successfully enforcing your judgment are significantly enhanced when you understand the psychographics of your judgment debtor. You must know what makes your debtor tick, so you can understand how to attract him. Sun-Tzu says in The Art of War, “Take from a man that which he cherishes, and he will conform to your desires.” This is one of my favorite quotes.
We need to know what makes them tick so we know which buttons to push to get the best legal and ethical result for our client; to significantly improve their judgment enforcement success.

INITIAL FORENSIC JUDGMENT ENFORCEMENT HERE’S HOW IT REALLY WORKS

By: Joe H. Dickerson

After locating your judgment debtor’s bank accounts, you serve the bank with the garnishment, you should also serve a subpoena for copies of all the credits and debits, front and back, for at least the last 24 months. The credits may come from other assets of the debtor such as transfers from the debtor’s savings account, distributions from trusts of which the debtor is the beneficiary, rental payments from real estate holdings, or income from securities that are your debtor’s own investments.

You really do not want just the periodic income. You want to take the entire corpus of the asset. As for the debits, you want to see where the checks were deposited, in what bank and to which account (this information will be on the back of the check). They may lead to other accounts or brokerage accounts also belonging to the debtor, or to your debtor’s payment for mortgages or rental property or other owned or controlled assets. The purchase of assets may be revealed or fraudulent transfers that could lead to recoveries from revocable trusts, the assets of which may be taken immediately.

You should always get all incoming wire transfers. You will be able to identify the source, which may be additional accounts, domestic or offshore, belonging to your debtor that you can take, and then trace other assets that have gone through that account. You will get the wiring instructions and the copies of all outgoing wires. They often lead you to sources of recovery, both domestic and offshore.

In addition to the loan applications you’ve subpoenaed from the bank or mortgage company, you will also subpoena copies of all tax returns provided by the person and business. From these tax returns, you will then learn where the income is coming from, possibly from real estate, which you may be able to take, as well. Also, there may be K-1’s that indicate income from partnerships or LLC’s that your debtor has ownership in.
If you determine that the debtor has a single-member, limited liability company, usually you can take the entire company, as federal and state courts have held that a single-member limited liability company has no asset protection. These debtor’s financial statements and tax returns can actually provide you with the DNA of the debtor’s financial life, your road map to unwinding that financial world and recovering assets to satisfy your judgment.