I am not a lawyer, I am the nation’s only judgment broker. This article is my opinion, and not legal advice, based on my experience in California, and laws vary in each state. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.
It is vital for a judgment creditor to know whether their judgment debtor has the ability to satisfy the judgment. The judgment debtor will likely attempt to hide the truth about the existence of their assets and their ability to pay the money judgment.
Requests for the Production of Documents and Things (PDT) can be a very useful post-judgment discovery tool. This kind of request is sometimes referred to as a Subpoena Duces Tecum (SDT). In this article, the abbreviation PDT-SDT will be used for this discovery tool. A SDT does not command a person, it commands records to be produced.
The reason to use a PDT-SDT is to try and more thoroughly locate and analyze the judgment debtor’s assets. The things which the creditor directs the judgment debtor to bring are what is most likely to shed light on the judgment debtor’s assets.
By using a PDT-SDT, the judgment debtor can be legally commanded to bring documents or other tangible things, to be examined by the creditor at the court at a specific date and time. The judgment debtor is served with a summons from the court, to produce the evidence as required. If they do not comply, they may be penalized by the court.
All PDT-SDTs must be prepared by the creditor or their attorney, and approved, scheduled, and endorsed by the local court. PDT-SDTs must conform to the court’s standards, and be personally and properly served on the judgment debtor (or in certain situations, a third-party). When a judgment debtor fails to answer a question or bring an item, the creditor must bring this to the attention of the judge.
In many courts, the questions and demand list for items to be produced, are not endorsed by the court, and do not become part of the court’s case files.
Some PDT-SDT things a judgment creditor might ask the judgment debtor to produce, might include: recent tax returns, current financial statements, investment statements, credit applications, bank statements, notes receivable title documents, records of all business and personal property, personal and business credit card statements, and insurance policies.
Depending on what state and which court, your judgment debtor may think twice about running the risk of being charged with contempt, for failure to respond thoroughly to your PDT-SDT.
If your judgment debtor is not forthcoming in producing the requested information, documents, or things; then more information can be obtained by serving PDT-SDTs on third-parties who know about or possess any judgment debtor assets. The third-parties can be spouses, accountants, and attorneys; sometimes even if they try to assert a claim of privilege.
PDT-SDTs are not trivial, needs a lot of paperwork, and requires many copies to be made. One must pay the court and a process server for each party served. One should hire an attorney, or if recovering a judgment that they own, become very familiar with the rules and procedures that apply at the court. Knowing all the ways to discover and levy the judgment debtor’s assets, is very important for a successful judgment recovery.