I am not a lawyer, I am a 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.
A judgment is both a piece of paper, and a historical record system. A judgment includes records of certain specific events related primarily to getting, and trying to recover the judgment. Judgments are not cash, not guaranteed, and do not recover themselves. (See our Judgment Captions Article).
When you contact a judgment broker, buyer, enforcer, collector, collection lawyer, or a collection agency; they will not do anything significant until they see a copy of your judgment.
No matter how much and what, you tell some person or entity about your judgment, they will not be doing much computer work, or researching your judgment debtor fully with public records, until they see the actual judgment. One exception can be if the person or entity is close to the court, and your judgment is big and looks easy to enforce, they might get a copy of your judgment themselves.
The reason a copy of a judgment is needed is because being named a judgment debtor is serious, and only the actual judgment can be counted on, to accurately name specific debtor(s) and the date and amounts on the judgment.
The proof of service for a judgment is often very important. Default judgments are weaker than contested judgments because on defaults, debtors might claim they were not served properly, even if they were.
As soon as you send the actual judgment paperwork, and what you know about the judgment debtor(s) and their assets; then you can get serious quotes, contracts, retainers, or agreements, for the purchase or recovery of your judgment.
There is no average, when it comes to how much documentation people keep for their judgment. Some people keep nothing. Some people keep only the one page with the court’s stamp, that shows the amount owed.
Some people keep multiple copies of everything, including all receipts, court documents, notes, copies of email, proposed revisions of the lawsuit (the complaint), all work products, envelopes received, etc.
Keeping the one page “meat” of the judgment might work fine, however it is best to also keep a copy of the proof of service, and whatever is known about the judgment debtor(s). Also, keep all documents that evidence any previous steps taken to try to collect, such as writs of execution, levies, and liens.
You do not want or need to keep, copy, and send out a 40-pound pile of papers. You should keep what is needed and no more. What was important in the past should be re-evaluated a year later. I recommend you keep only the page(s) of the actual judgment, the proof of service, one copy of the final complaint, and anything that identifies the judgment debtor(s) and their assets.
Unless you use a judgment broker, you will have to send your judgment documents to several or many enforcers, because most enforcers are now very picky about which judgments they will buy or try to recover, in the current economic situation.
When you communicate with a judgment broker, buyer, collection lawyer, or an enforcer, keep focused on your judgment, and what is known about your judgment debtor(s). It does not help to ramble on about trivia or your dislike of your judgment debtor, or to send them too much documentation. After you find the right buyer or recovery solution, then you can send the extra documentation you may have.
Judgment documents can either be paper copies or PDFs. They cannot be printed dockets from court web sites only for many reasons, including court web sites are not consistent, and judgment amounts and other important information may be missing on court web sites, and they are not guaranteed to be accurate.
If you do not have a copy of your judgment, the court can make a copy for you for a very nominal charge. Your court might let you download a PDF of your judgment. If you hired an attorney, perhaps they have a PDF or a paper copy of your judgment.