In the District of Columbia (DC), judgment records are created because of civil litigations resolved within the court system. The documents provide details about the outcome of a case by describing the court's final decision in a legal proceeding.
Judgment records are generally maintained and disseminated by the courts, particularly where the court case was filed. Because the courts that generate judgment court records are governmental organizations, the District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act mandates judgment court records to be open to the public. As a result, judgment records, like other District of Columbia court records, are available for inspection and copying at courthouses or the DC court records database upon request.
What is a Judgment?
Rule 54 of the DC Rules of Civil Procedure defines a judgment as a court decree issued due to a legal disagreement between the parties. It declares the rights and responsibilities of the parties to a lawsuit. Although a judgment can be a specific command to perform or not perform an action, it usually concerns debt recovery.
A judgment provides a detailed account of all decided judicial proceedings. It also identifies the parties for and against whom it was issued.
District of Columbia Judgment Laws
What is Judgment Lien?
A judgment lien in DC is a judicial lien placed on a judgment debtor's property by a creditor. If the debtor fails to pay after the judgment lien has been attached, the creditor may foreclose on the property secured by the judgment lien.
In DC, a judgment lien is usually attached to real estate. The creditor must file and record the judgment with the District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds to attach the lien to the property in question. In addition, the judgment lien will remain attached to the debtor's property for twelve years or until the judgment is satisfied or discharged.
What is a District of Columbia Summary Judgement?
Rule 56 of the DC Rules of Civil Procedure governs summary judgment procedures in the district. A summary judgment is a final ruling that resolves a case without a trial and grants the parties the option of appeal.
Civil proceedings typically have several factual issues to address, which is why some cases go to trial. However, a summary judgment is a means of avoiding trial and cutting the litigation process short when both parties agree on the essential facts of a case.
In general, a summary judgment is a legal shortcut to get parties from pleadings to judgment. The judge simply applies the law to the facts and declares who wins the case.
What is A Summary Judgment Motion In The District of Columbia of Columbia?
A motion for summary judgment is a demand for a final decision on a civil matter without a trial. Any party filing a motion for summary judgment must identify the material facts based on the motion in separately numbered paragraphs. The party must also list the supporting evidence next to each fact. On the other hand, the opposing party can argue that a fact is disputed by submitting contradictory evidence when the motion is filed.
If the movant can prove that there is no genuine dispute to any significant fact and that they merit a judgment as a matter of law, the court will issue a summary judgment.
A party can request a summary judgment at any time until 30 days following the conclusion of all discovery unless the court orders differently.
District of Columbia Judgment Record Search
In the District of Columbia, individuals can search for a judgment using the courts' eAccess site maintained by the Superior Court. This site was created to guarantee and improve public access to court records via the internet.
With eAccess, everyone with internet access can easily find available judgment records. The search portal offers two search criteria for retrieving court records: the Case Number Search and the Name Search.
The case number search is the portal's default search option. The inquirer must input the correct case number to retrieve records. Alternatively, the inquirer can use the name search feature to look up records using a case party's first and last name or business name. Access to court case information through eAccess is free.
How Do I Look Up a Judgment In the District of Columbia?
The District of Columbia clerks of the court are responsible for maintaining and disseminating judgment records. Hence, any individual interested in inspecting or obtaining a copy of a judgment record can contact the court clerk of the court where the case was filed.
The requester must submit a written request to look up judgment records maintained by the clerk. The court clerk will usually provide other instructions and procedures for accessing the documents.
What Happens if You Have a Judgment Against You in the District of Columbia?
The court will enter a judgment against an individual if the party loses a lawsuit or fails to appear in court. Once this happens, a notice of the judgment's entry should arrive in the party's mail. Since a judgment legally binds all parties, the debtor will be required to fulfill the responsibilities outlined in the judgment. Meanwhile, the creditor will attempt to collect payment from the debtor, and whether payment is collected easily or forcefully depends on the debtor.
Garnishment of wages, property attachments, and judgment liens are common ways that the creditor can enforce a judgment if the debtor fails to satisfy it. Typically, DC laws govern the type of income and property that a judgment creditor can forcefully take from a debtor. As such, the debtor can exempt specific property from the execution of judgments.
Furthermore, if the judgment debtor believes that the judgment has been wrongfully entered, the law allows them to petition the court to overturn the judgment.
How Do I Find Out If I Have Any Judgments Against Me In the District of Columbia?
The District of Columbia's judiciary keeps judgment records, which bear civil judgments rendered in the district. Thus, parties involved in litigation can consult these records to determine if judgments have been entered for or against them.
Additionally, suppose the party involved in the lawsuit does not receive any judgment entry notice in the mail. In that case, the party may call the clerk's office in the courthouse where the lawsuit was filed for further information.
How Long Does A Judgment Stay On Your Record?
Because civil judgments entered in the District of Columbia last 12 years, a judgment against an individual will be public information for that period - and possibly longer if the judgment is renewed. Civil judgments are also reported to credit bureaus. Hence, civil judgments may appear on a person's credit report. If this happens, the judgment will disappear within 7 to 10 years.
How To Enforce A Judgment In District of Columbia
Rule 69 of the DC Rules of Civil procedure outlines the legal techniques that a prevailing litigant can employ to enforce a judgment after its entry. These methods include:
- Execution, with which a debtor's money or assets can be seized.
- Attachment, with which the judgment debtor's assets in the custody of a third party are frozen and subjected to a condemnation order by attachment.
- Garnishment, with which a judgment debtor's wages can be seized.
To use the first method (i.e., execution), the judgment creditor must file for and obtain a Writ of Execution from the clerk. The writ must be served on the judgment debtor, and it must be returned within 60 days of its issuance. If the writ is returned unsatisfied, an alias writ may be issued. This is a second writ issued on the same matter after the first one failed to be effective.
To proceed with the second option (i.e., attachment), the judgment creditor must file for and collect a Writ of Attachment from the clerk. This writ must also be served on the judgment debtor. Typically, it includes questions about assets and property that the recipient (the debtor) must answer. Within ten days of notice of the writ, the recipient must submit an answer to the clerk and serve a copy on the involved parties.
Finally, to garnish a judgment debtor's earnings, the judgment creditor must file and obtain a Writ of Attachment from the Clerk. However, this time, the judgment creditor must serve the writ on the debtor's employer.
How To Collect A Judgment In District of Columbia
In all civil cases filed in the District of Columbia, the judgment creditor is responsible for collecting the judgment because the court does not collect it for the prevailing party. The legal processes used to collect a money judgment (see above) cannot begin until the clerk enters ("dockets") the judgment on the official court record, which takes ten business days.
What Happens if a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment in District of Columbia
If the losing party in a lawsuit (typically the defendant) fails to pay the winning party, the latter may obtain a writ of attachment against the defendant's income or property. This writ is a legal document that authorizes the winning party to seize funds from the losing party's salaries, bank account, and other assets to recover a judgment debt. The creditor can apply for the writ of attachment at the clerk's office.
What Personal Property Can Be Seized in a Judgment in the District of Columbia?
A Writ of Fieri Facias (used in the District of Columbia to execute a judgment) can be issued against a debtor's possessions and chattels (property other than real estate), provided the property is not exempt from execution. This writ can also be levied against the debtor's accounts, checks, promissory notes, bonds, or certificates of stock.
District of Columbia Judgment Interest Rate
Per Section 28–3302 of the District of Columbia Code, the post-judgment interest rate is two percent starting from July 1, 2020. This interest rate does not apply to judgments against DC or its employees acting within the scope of their duty. For those parties, the judgment interest rate is fixed at four percent. However, the pre-judgment interest rate is six percent unless an expressed contract specifies otherwise.
What is a Default Judgment?
According to Rule 55 of the DC Rules of Civil Procedure, the clerk or court can render a default judgment when a defendant fails to plead or otherwise defend their interests in a civil matter. The court can decide to enter a judgment on its motion or upon a plaintiff's request. Any default judgment made on the court's initiative takes effect 14 days after it is docketed. This 14-day wait period is essential for defendants who file to set aside the judgment.
When a court issues a default judgment, the claimant usually receives everything that was requested in their claim. As a result, if extenuating circumstances exist that could cause a delay in pleading or defending, the defendant should request an Extension of Time to Plead or Otherwise Defend, and the time to plead may be extended by one of the following:
- An order granting a motion for a time extension for a good reason.
- A praecipe or writ granting a one-time 21-day extension to plead or answer. Both parties must sign this legal agreement.
If the defendant fails to respond after the extension expires, the court may issue a default judgment if:
- The plaintiff filed and served a complaint on the defendant promptly.
- The amount claimed is stated in the verified complaint or affidavit.
How to File a Motion To Set Aside Default Judgment in District of Columbia
A District of Columbia court will typically set aside a default judgment for these reasons:
- If the party filing the motion did not attend the hearing, has sufficient grounds for not doing so, and has an adequate defense to a claim.
- The party filing the motion failed to file some necessary documents but has a solid reason for failing to do so and can provide an appropriate defense.
- Mistakes or carelessness of parties involved in the litigation.
- Discovery of new evidence that could not have been uncovered in time to file a Motion for Reconsideration or a New Hearing within the ten-day deadline.
- A party's fraud, deceit, or other misbehavior
- The judgment is void.
- A prior judgment on which the judgment is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated.
- Any other justification for relief.
Any motion to set aside a default judgment must be filed within a reasonable time - usually, no more than a year after the entry of judgment. Interested parties can query the court clerk for the appropriate forms required to file this motion.
File Motion To Vacate Judgment in District of Columbia
A motion to vacate judgment is a petition for relief from a DC court's final order. It is a specific request to the judge that heard a case to change their final order. Parties interested in filing this motion must do so within 120 days after the judgment has been issued (an additional five days will be granted if the judgment was mailed to the entity). Under Rule 7 of the DC Rules of Civil Procedure, a party can file such a motion by first obtaining the appropriate form from the court clerk's office.
Note that a motion to vacate judgment must show a good cause for the failure to appear. After filing the motion, the clerk will schedule a hearing on the motion.
How To Remove An Abstract Of Judgment In District of Columbia
When an abstract of judgment is recorded in the District of Columbia, it creates a lien on any property the judgment debtor owns in the county where the document is filed.
Typically, the judgment debtor must pay the judgment in full to have the abstract of judgment removed from their property. Following the completion of payment, the judgment creditor must file a satisfaction of judgment with the court. This allows the abstract of judgment to be withdrawn from the judgment debtor's property.
Alternatively, suppose the judgment debtor has a credible reason. In that case, they may petition the court to have the judgment vacated or set aside to remove the abstract of judgment from their property.
How Long Is a Judgment Good For In District of Columbia
A final judgment issued in the District of Columbia is good for twelve years from entry. However, per the DC Code, judgments may be extended by order of revival for another twelve years from the date of the order.
District of Columbia Judgment Statute of Limitations Law
Under Title 15, Chapter 1 of the District of Columbia Code, every final judgment or decree for the payment of money is only enforceable for twelve years. This means that once the twelve-year time elapses, the judgment will no longer have any operation or effect, and the judgment creditor will find it hard or impossible to collect the judgment. Despite this, the judgment can be easily extended for a similar period.