ROW YOUR OWN CANOE
TO GET YOUR JUDGMENT ENFORCED EFFICIENTLY
By: Joe H. Dickerson, CFE, CFI
ou’ve won a significant civil case and have been awarded a significant amount of money by the court and it’s been months, or perhaps years, you have paid your attorneys a lot of money and you have never recovered a single dollar, you look in the mirror every day and ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong?”
I would suggest to you that you’re probably not doing anything wrong. You are, in all likelihood, just not doing most of the right things to get the job done correctly. Don’t be too hard on yourself – because 80% of the people or businesses that win judgments in the United States never get their money.
That’s right –
80% of the judgments entered in the US are never enforced or collected.
There are many reasons and even more excuses for this sad and unnecessary fact. It’s not your fault – that’s not the business you are in – but it’s your responsibility to Row Your Own Canoe, and you don’t have to do it yourself. It’s much like owning your own yacht – in all probability, you are not the captain of your yacht. You hire a qualified expert – A seasoned expert to be your captain and he hires managers and supervisors, the crew that all work together to get you safely to your destination.
Unless you are in the business of buying and collecting your own judgments, you do not need a yacht or a captain. Even if your fishing for trophies you will probably do just fine with a reasonable sized fishing boat or canoe.
When I say, “Row Your Own Canoe”, I am of course speaking metaphorically. You must take the responsibility as the owner of the judgment, to see that either you or your trusted consultant and advisor, take charge and ensure that the right team of judgment enforcement experts are on the team and managed properly.
The team should consist of: a Financial Forensic Research Expert; perhaps a Digital Forensic Expert; perhaps a Forensic Accountant; and an experienced, aggressive, no non-sense attorney.
Let’s quickly review the major reasons that 80% of the judgments in the US are never enforced:
- Only three of the top 50 law schools ever mention judgment enforcement – those three, according to the Dean of the Law School, discuss judgment enforcement for two or three hours in their Creditor’s Rights course.
- Typically, attorneys want to keep on doing what they’ve always done and then they keep on getting what they’ve always got – 80% failure.
A. They subpoena the debtor to a deposition and require him, via subpoena, to bring all his financial records, bank statements, brokerage account records, etc. They are surprised when the debtor does not comply – but they do little, if anything, to force compliance.
B. They seldom, if ever, checking to verify the lies told by the debtor under oath.
C. They act as they actually believe the debtor or his attorney when promises are made to locate and supply the wiring documents.
- They continue to bill the client and usually want to repeat the two above.
Surprise, they fail 80% of the time but they got lots of billable hours.
The other 20% of attorneys who work judgment enforcement cases do anywhere from an acceptable to an outstanding job for their clients.
GETTING OUT OF YOUR BOAT
Matthew records, “Then Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”
Today, ask yourself these three questions:
1. What’s my boat? It’s whatever gives you your greatest sense of security. It’s what you’re tempted to put your trust in when life gets stormy. To know what your boat is, ask yourself,”What is it that produces the most fear in me, especially when i think of leaving it behind and stepping out in faith?
2. What’s keeping me from getting out of my boat? Fear. Fear of people or failure, fear of criticism, fear of lack. In order to grow, you must go into new territory and each time you do you’ll experience fear, it never goes away. But each time you get out of your boat, you become a little more able to do it next time, and you begin to realize that fear doesn’t have the power to destroy you. So when Jesus says to you, “Come start walking.” He won’t let you down.
3. What will I forfeit by staying in my boat? Your destiny. To achieve what you have not yet achieved you must attempt what you have not yet attempted. Will there be risks? Yes. Baseball’s greatest hitters fail two times out of every three. But they know that if they don’t step up to the plate, they’ll never experience the joy of hitting a home run.
Understand this, if you stay in your boat you’ll eventually die there and end up wondering what your life might have been if only you’d been willing to get out of your boat.
Diagnostic & Prescriptive Judgment Enforcement
By: Joe H. Dickerson, CFE
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