There are seven critical mistakes judgment creditors make when attempting to collect their judgment. We’ll be discussing each mistake in detail … and how to correct it. Last week, we covered mistake #6: Failure to Ascertain the Psychographics of the Judgment Debtor. Now, let’s identify the problem we are dealing with this week.
MISTAKE #7: FAILURE TO ADD APPROPRIATE MEMBERS TO THE JUDGMENT ENFORCEMENT TEAM
Since this month we are addressing the 7th of the Seven Critical Mistakes Judgment Creditors Make Attempting to Collect Their Judgments, let’s start by reviewing the first six we have discussed in some detail over the last six months.
- Not Understanding that the Court Does Not Make the Judgment Debtor Pay the Judgment
- Conducting a Debtor’s Exam (Deposition) of the Judgment Debtor as Soon as the Judgment is Entered
- Expecting the Judgment Debtor to Actually Appear for the Deposition, Tell the Truth and Produce the Subpoenaed Documents
- Expecting to Find the Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow
- Attempting to Collect from a Judgment Debtor that has No Assets
- Failure to Ascertain the Psychographics of the Judgment Debtor
Having the appropriate members on the Judgment Enforcement Team is, without a doubt, the most important thing a judgment creditor must address aside from actually obtaining the judgment.
Addressing the first six mistakes are important and should receive appropriate attention, but that is of no consideration if the appropriate members of the Judgment Enforcement Team are not on board.
There are many excellent litigation attorneys who can take the facts of your situation and present them to the trier of facts, be it a court or a jury, and if the law supports your position, win an appropriate judgment for you. This does not mean those attorneys automatically have the necessary skill set and experience to collect the judgment for you. This does not imply they are not excellent attorneys, but enforcing a significant judgment does requires a unique skill set — usually an experienced specialist/expert in commercial collection.
You must take great care to ensure you have the right team of experts. If you needed a brain surgeon, you would not hire a proctologist. They are both experts, but only one has the special skills needed to successfully perform the brain surgery. Likewise, there are many collection attorneys who perform consumer collection work dealing with credit card collection, hot checks, medical bills, car loans, small claim judgments, etc., but not commercial collections recovering hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars locally, nationally, and globally. Be sure you retain the appropriate collection attorney for your needs. This will be a significant key to successful resolution of your case.
Additionally, there are many private investigators who advertise they do complete “asset checks” for judgment enforcement for a flat fee of $500. They are general practitioners who also work divorce cases, personal injury investigations, missing person cases, criminal defense cases, etc. You probably want to engage the services of a financial forensic expert who understands judgment enforcement laws and knows how to obtain bank information and other necessary information legally, so it is admissible and does not violate privacy laws. Expert work done by this professional can save you both time and substantial legal fees while obtaining evidence for your attorney that makes the difference and prevents you from spending significant money only to be part of the 80 percent that never collects their judgment. This will help ensure you are in the 20 percent recovering the losses the court awarded to you. Other experts frequently needed as members of your Judgment Enforcement Team often include forensic accountants, forensic evaluation experts and forensic computer experts. Be certain you have the right team or you will never be in the successful 20 percent that collect their court awarded money judgment.
Let’s review a list of the professionals you may well need as a part of your Judgment Enforcement Team:
- Team manager/coordinator
- Seasoned commercial collection attorney
- Financial Forensic Research Professional
- Data analyst
- Locksmith to help with access/ securing home, office, files, safes, safe deposit boxes, warehouse/storage facilities, vehicle(s), plane(s), etc. that you and/or the sheriff may be authorized by the court to enter and/or take possession of that asset
- Licensed, bonded movers/ storage facility
- Bond company
- Appraiser/valuation experts
- Court approved auctioneer
- A document examiner (handwriting expert)
- Forensic accountant
- Computer (digital) forensic expert
- Securities/finance/banking expert
- Bankruptcy attorney (familiar with Sections 523 and 727 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code)
You will seldom need all these experts on any one case, but you must be aware of them and the value they add to your recovery when needed. This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of every expert you could ever need, but rather a list of many of the most common experts often comprising the most successful team. Hopefully, this list will bring to mind experts, who, when needed, are appropriate and necessary to best serve your clients.
We at Financial Forensic Services are always available to help you find the experts you need to ensure success in all your judgment enforcement cases.