This morning I spent time sitting in the local courthouse watching debtors go up against creditors in judgment cases. All the debtors lost and judgments were granted to the creditors. One judgment from 2000 was renewed for another term.
The first case I watched was that of a guy with a copier purchase or lease. Since the copier was in the name of his company the law required that his corporation be represented by a licensed attorney. Since he was not a lawyer he could not represent the corporation, a distinct and separate legal entity.
The judge gave him three chances to ask for a continuance so he could go get a lawyer and the guy indicated he was impatient and wanted to get this over today. The judge said “OK sir if that’s your wish,” and shrugged her shoulders. He injected he had offered a settlement on the debt.
The judge turned to the the lawyer representing the copier company and he said the settlement offer was insufficient so the judge had no other choice that to award the judgment in favor of the creditor. Done.
Next few cases called were for insurance premiums owed. Since the debtors didn’t bother to show-up they automatically lost. The lawyer said that they had talks about settling the debts but the amounts offered were insufficient. Judgment, judgment, judgment.
The last case I watched was a law firm that was getting sued for what seemed like past due online court access fees. The lawyer being sued already admitted he owed some money but wanted to dispute the amount due. I didn’t stay for the end of that case but from the part I observed it sure did not look like it was going to end well for him.
I left a message for the judge and I’m hoping to get permission to record an interview with her regarding consumer debt and the court. It would be great if she would agree to share her opinion and experience about what generally happens with debtors in court and what’s the best approach to dealing with debt.