By: Joe H. Dickerson
You’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.