Difficult Judgments

August 11, 2023


Most judgment recovery courses and experienced judgment enforcers advise people to screen judgment debtors carefully, and never take assignment of any judgment unless the debtor has obvious assets showing. (For example – jobs, bank accounts, businesses, or properties.)

The problem with such good advice, is that more than 95% of judgment debtors are not doing very well, and do not have obvious assets showing. Most judgments are tough, yet every debtor has to eat, and most have (or can get) some kind of income or assets that can be used to at least partially satisfy the judgment. The average judgment is difficult until one digs down and finds the income or asset.

Judgment brokers, judgment listing services, and suppliers of judgment leads, are sometimes held to an impossible standard, and some people assert they list mostly tough judgments. Most listings of judgment leads range from easy to tough. Some judgment leads are free unless they pan out, which makes sense when judgments are not perfect.

One problem with all judgment lists are that the easy judgments get taken very quickly, leaving a false impression that they have only tough judgments. Because most judgments are crummy, most judgment lists include crummy judgments. A good judgment broker tries to separate crummy judgments, but judgment classification is more of an art than a science.

Ten years ago, many judgment enforcers did very well rejecting all but the easiest of judgments. Now, any judgment enforcer that only works easy judgments, will experience long dry spells between finding more “great” judgments.

Now, judgment recovery specialists must start looking at marginal judgments to work, while waiting to find a good judgment. While the debtor’s situation is very important, the location of the debtor is also important. Gone are the days where one could easily enforce a judgment by remote control, using only the post office.

Judgments found on “difficult” lists are not impossible, but they are not easy. Many judgments on difficult lists, get recovered or partially recovered. Judgments may go on difficult lists when the debtor’s full situation is not known yet, or when too many judgment enforcers will not even look at the judgment situation, or when a previous judgment enforcer tried to recover the judgment by remote control.

If you are close to the judgment debtor, you might want to consider difficult judgments. As long as you avoid wasting time and money on poor judgment debtors, there is nothing wrong with difficult judgments as a long-term investments. Some enforcers take and keep difficult judgments and just run bank account and employment searches every year, and strike when something is found.

By working local judgments, you might discover with a drive-by, or by talking with neighbors, how the judgment debtor makes a living, and you might find out when they can be served. You might find out they live with a relative, who can be served to answer questions about the debtor’s assets.

You never know for sure what will work, the key is to try all the cheap and easy ways first with judgment debtors that are close to you. If you start to recover a difficult judgment, you are not obligated to keep it. You can return the judgment to the Original Judgment Creditor. You can also just check the judgment debtor’s situation every year, you may find an asset to satisfy the judgment.

Slam-dunk judgments are what all judgment enforcers want. However, most easy judgments are never seen, because they are often already satisfied. As long as you do not waste time or money on permanently judgment-proof debtors, you will increase your chances of making more money by recovering more judgments that are local to you.

The average charge to enforce small (under 10K) judgments is about 50 percent. It is fair to charge more on difficult judgments. I have seen the enforcer get 80% and the original judgment creditor get 20% when the judgment debtor is poor, or had deeply hidden assets due to the expense, risk, and difficulty of any recovery of the judgment money.

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