The world is more connected than ever. People, including judgment debtors, share their favorite restaurants, hobbies, vacations, and gripes about their jobs. While this information is very helpful for locating assets after judgment there is an even more direct means of establishing a judgment debtor’s assets . . . just ask them.
In the Connecticut judicial system judgment creditors can conduct what is called an examination of judgment debtor or EJD. In order to properly begin an EJD the judgment debtor must be served by a state marshal. Either abode or in-hand service is sufficient although in-hand service is better for reasons discussed later. Once the judgment debtor is served the court will sets a date for the EJD.
At the EJD the judgment debtor is placed under oath and then questioned about their assets. Everything from bank accounts and real estate to baseball cards is fair game. Essentially, anything that could be used to satisfy the outstanding judgment balance can be discussed. EJD’s provide invaluable information for collections but they also have the added benefit of encouraging negotiations between the parties. These negotiations are often how judgments end up being satisfied. EJDs can be continued past the initial appearance date which is helpful when a judgment debtor appears without documents and thinks he can skate by without full disclosure.
Now at this point you may be wondering why would a judgment debtor show up and give a creditor a road map to collecting against him? It is seemingly in their interest not appear and let the creditor chase them. This may be the case however if an EJD is served in-hand and the judgment debtor fails to appear the court can issue a civil arrest warrant or capias. The judgment creditor can then have the judgment debtor arrested by a state marshal. This means the judgment debtor is brought into into court in handcuffs and after being processed through the lock-up in the basement of every courthouse.
It is important to point out that the judgment debtor is not being arrested for failing to pay the judgment. Instead they are arrested for defying the court order to appear at the EJD. I have been issued many capiases but I have only had a judgment debtor arrested twice and both times the effect was profound.
In sum EJD’s are a great way of collecting on judgments. With the right collections attorney they create a road map of the judgment debtor’s assets and encourage voluntary repayment. They are the final leg in the post-judgment collection trifecta and often the last stop on the long road to making creditors whole.