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Do We Give Deadbeats Too Many Chances?

June 6, 2013


I’ve spent most of my career as a transactional lawyer or in-house. I haven’t spent too much time in court rooms.

Recently, I had two experiences that really opened my eyes to how bad the court system really is. And by the system, I don’t mean the judges, clerks or other dedicated personnel who man the courts. I’m specifically talking about the rules of the system.

People always complain about the cost of litigation. Equally bad, in my opinion is the time it takes anything to actually happen. And, this is due to the cumbersome rules that the courts follow.

Two cases:

1. I did some work for another lawyer. We’ll call him Joe Vomit (not his real name, but like the Hebrew expression- C’shmo Cach Hoo; like his name, he is). So, Joe Vomit ignores my invoice, ignores follow up emails and phone calls. Eventually, my only recourse is to the courts.

At every step, I email Vomit. (To wit: “Pay me 10% of what you owe me for the next ten months, so we don’t have to end up in court”). He never responds, doesn’t show up in court and I get the default judgment.

I take the judgment to the sheriff, but the bank levies that the Sheriff issues, come back with pennies.

The next step in New Jersey is called an Information Statement. Again, I have to serve Vomit (the deadbeat lawyer, not what we otherwise call puke). This time, he shows up at the hearing and claims he wasn’t served properly. The Judge pays no attention to his objections and orders him to provide the information requested by the Information Statement.

Why he’s given a hearing to fill out a form escapes me. This is the system putting a burden on legitimate judgment creditors by making them show up to receive a form and helping out deadbeats by giving them a chance to stall and voice their nonsensical objections.

But I won that battle as I received the form and watched Vomit (the deadbeat lawyer, not puke) retreat in a late model Lexus SUV.

2. I agreed to help one of my business clients with some outstanding receivables. We filed a complaint and the defendant didn’t bother to answer.

Now, before I get a default judgment and start the execution process (an adventure in its own right), I have to petition the court for a default. Once they grant the default, I have to petition for a default judgment.

Why these two steps can’t be done together is beyond me. Again, the non-compliant defendant is given more time to stall and the creditor plaintiff is given extra work to do.

I suggest that these rules need to be changed. The system is stacked in favor of deadbeats that flout the rules of the court. They ignore summons and are rewarded with numerous chances to stall.

This needs to be changed.


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  1. yechiel aaron permalink

    You are correct. There are holes in the system that need to be fixed.

  2. Elizabeth marks permalink

    It is ridiculous the people can learn to evade the system and further victimize their victims. The court system proves itself to be incompetent through allowing the cycle of delay to continue. Hard to believe that this unethical hypocrisy in a lawyer can’t lead to their disbarment. Unethical behavior should lead to ethics review by the Bar.

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