Tag Archives: Nashville lawyer

Collecting Your Judgment

Congratulations on winning a judgment against your Defendant! Even in the glow of your victory, take note that winning a judgment doesn’t automatically mean you get a check. Getting the judgment, no matter how much work you or your attorney put into getting it, can be the first step to getting paid, or what is referred to as a “satisfaction” of the judgment.

If your Defendant pays immediately, great! The judgment is then “satisfied”.money gavel

But what happens when the Defendant doesn’t pay the judgment?

Note, even though there is expense and time involved, you can pursue satisfaction through judgment collection. The Court may or may not grant you a judgment increase to cover your collection costs. Thus you must decide how far you are willing to go to collect your judgment. It is your decision to decide if the expense and time of pursuing your judgment is worth the effort to collect.  For many plaintiffs – it is!

An initial step towards satisfaction is garnishing the Judgment Debtor’s wages. In Tennessee, employers even those of 1099 independent contractors, are required to garnish the Debtor’s wages or be responsible for the payment of the debt. A percentage of the Debtor’s wages is collected until the judgment debt is paid in full. It takes a while, but eventually, you will be paid in full – so long as they remain employed with that employer.

What if your Judgment Debtor is self-employed? You can still collect on your judgment but it will likely take more time and expense. Your Tennessee judgment will last ten years and can be revived to last even longer – so you’ve got time if you have the patience.

First, you need to do some reconnaissance and maybe post-judgment hearings to determine what property your Judgment Debtor owns. Maybe he owns real property (land) and personal property like cars, A.T.V.s, motorcycles, a truck, heavy equipment, or other property.

Second, if the Judgment Debtor still refuses to pay, the County Sheriff can seize the personal property and sell it at auction to satisfy the judgment. If the proceeds are not enough to pay the judgment, a lien can be placed on the real property. That lien (the judgment) must be satisfied first or at the time of closing before the property can be sold. Ultimately, this means you finally get your money!

You may have a Judgment Debtor who is “judgment proof”. This means essentially they do not have an employer from whom you can seek garnishment and don’t have any real or personal property of value. If so, this may mean your judgment may be difficult to collect and will require a lot of patience.  Nothing but time and pressure make a diamond – and your wait can pay off – especially since Tennessee’s judgment interest rate keeps rising.  That means your judgment amount will keep growing.  And, your judgment is good for 10 years (you can renew the judgment before it expires).

So, while getting your judgment is the first step towards adding to your bank account and the process can take time, ultimately you can receive satisfaction in more ways than one!

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Don’t take a Selfie with the Judge

cell phone banCan you take your cell phone into court?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  In Wilson County, Tennessee?  Definitely not.  Upon approach, you will see multiple signs announcing cell phones or other recording devices were banned from the building.

Suspecting a good story behind the heavily advertised ban, I asked the ladies in the clerk’s office what prompted the zero tolerance policy.  Apparently, in at least one instance, spectators in the courtroom texted witnesses waiting outside what the witness on the stand said.  On top of that, judges did not like spectators taking pictures of the proceedings or of the judge personally.  I imagined a witness snapping a quick selfie with the judge in the background and Aunt Susan snapping a picture of cousin Jack’s latest arraignment to share instantly with Mama and ’em or possibly on facebook.

A judge may make rules for her or his court.  Failure to follow those rules could result in contempt of court which could carry a fine or jail time.  See our article on pajamas in the courtroom or other cell phone-related contempt of court rules for Circuit Court in Davidson County, Nashville, Tennessee.  To be safe, you should always check local rules for your court to ensure you follow the rules perfectly.  A quick internet search on your phone could help you keep that phone.

According to this article, a violator is subject to a 10-day jail sentence and/or forfeiture of their cell phone.  And, as the cell phone is also a status symbol, some of them can be pretty costly (some iPhones retail in excess of $800+).  That is a pretty heavy investment to simply be locked away in a vault.

The moral of this story is simply don’t bring your cell phone or recording device into the Wilson County Justice Center in Lebanon, Tennessee.  The justice there is swift, the folks there are friendly, but they take the cell phone ban seriously… and so should you.


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Filed under Court, Litigation

Petition for Civil Contempt of Court

You know it is coming, or at least you should. You were involved in a lawsuit but thankfully, you reached a signed settlement agreement that dictated what each party would do to resolve the litigation permanently. But…. time passed and you didn’t do some or any of the things you agreed to do. Why? That’s not the point now. What matters is you have been served with a Petition for Civil Contempt of Court and it is time to deal with the repercussions of your delay. civil contempt of court

What do you do now? Do what you agreed to do in the settlement agreement – and do it quickly! Sheer refusal or lame excuses will not go well with the court. Assuming you knew you had a duty to perform (you did sign the agreement) and you have the current ability to perform the task, your refusal or failure to perform under the settlement agreement can carry civil or criminal penalties. Yes. You. Jail. Not only could you get a dressing down by the Judge, you may also get a few days behind bars to think it over and “purge yourself of contempt”. In other words, you may not get out of jail until you perform under the settlement agreement. In fact, we are familiar with one local case where a former spouse failed to pay alimony under a Marital Dissolution Agreement (the settlement agreement) and was “housed” by the court for over two months until he made a substantial down payment on the overdue alimony.

If you have legitimate reasons for failing to perform – you can’t sell the house because it was destroyed by a tornado or you can’t deliver 10,000 widgets as agreed because a widget blight destroyed the entire international widget crop – then you have some room to work with here. Your attorney can confer with opposing counsel to determine if substitute action will suffice or perhaps all parties could modify the settlement agreement to reflect the substantial change of circumstances.

So, either way, it is time to act.  Doing so will save you time, expense and anxiety over the case.  Do what you need to do, get it behind you and move on with life.

Peace of mind is priceless.


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Social Media, Divorce and Inappropriate Marital Conduct

Divorce. It can be one of the emotionally painful experiences in one’s life. The urge to show your soon-to-be former spouse that you are “moving on” with a new love and out on the town instead of waiting at home for her or him to return can be quite powerful. Almost irresistible. Resist!

divorce cake FacebookAs an attorney, I guide my clients not to publish their “moving on” moments on facebook or other social media and just keep it off social media period.  Maybe your spouse may feel jealous of your latest loves after seeing you online going out night after night in downtown Nashville. Maybe not. But, your shared moments are well-documenting what the court would likely see as Inappropriate Marital Conduct – which is grounds for divorce in Tennessee. In other words, you are building a substantial case against yourself, selfie by selfie, all without your spouse or his/her attorney lifting a finger, other than saving the pictures to be used at trial.  And, even if you delete content in a dramatic effort to clean up your social media history, it is still discoverable.  Even deleted, once posted, it never actually goes away.  People have long memories.  The internet’s is longer, as in forever.

To read more on the impact of social media on divorce please click here.

Divorce is difficult enough without making it harder on yourself. Keep your social media clean and consistent with your position in the divorce. In the end, your attorney will be glad you did, and so will you.

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Filed under Family Law

What if OJ had worn a Fitbit? – The use of Fitbit data in the courtroom

Fitibit_FlexAfter viewing part of the new OJ drama on television last night, I recalled seeing the white bronco drama unfolding on my own small television one summer law school.  The trial.  The glove.  The compliments on counsel’s hair.  The verdict.  It was fodder for a very hungry news machine.  As I watched the white bronco speeding down the highway again last night, I considered what the coverage of such an event would be now.  It would “telegraphed” by every iphone, tweet, Instagram, website, text, Snap chat, facebook post, blog and so forth now.  The frenzy would make shark week look like your kid’s fish bowl.

The media’s insatiable hunger for news has only increased and so has technology.  I awoke this morning to find yet another use of technology in the law.  Now your Fitbit could be used against you.  In other words, you may have the right to remain silent, but your Fitbit does not.

It counts steps.  It tracks your heart rate.  It knows when you are sleeping. It knows when you’re awake.  It can give an implication if you’ve been bad or good…. so be good for liability’s sake.

So, over coffee this morning, I marinated on this question, no matter what side of the verdict you were on, “What if OJ had been wearing a Fitbit?”

See the Forbes article by clicking here:

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Filed under Court, Litigation, technology in the courtroom