Recovering judgments is usually tough, and the odds for recovery are often a long shot. Can you shame your judgment debtor into paying you by putting a copy of your judgment on some web site? Can you use your debtor’s name as the name of some new web site to do this? Can you also add extra information such as your side of the story, or what you know about them, and perhaps include their address and picture?
This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.
Can you put a copy of your judgment on a web site? My opinion is that if you put a copy of only your judgment as it was filed at the courthouse, that is probably legal, because civil judgments are public records. However, anything more than that, you should be very careful because of laws that protect privacy, etc.
If you put on your web site, “This is a copy of a judgment I got against Dan Debtor”, and put a PDF or JPG copy of the final judgment, that would be OK; as long as there is nothing private such as the debtor’s address or their social security number on the judgment. If those are present, make sure they are covered up so they cannot be read.
Whether your judgment debtor or their lawyer can sue you is not really the question, because anybody can sue anyone else for any reason. The question is, will they win in court? The answer probably depends on whether you limit what yourself to the example in the paragraph above or not. What if you:
A) Use your judgment debtor’s name as a web site name, showing a copy of your judgment, for example: www.DanDebtor.com.
B) You post nasty comments or the debtor’s private information on public media web sites, or publicly call your judgment debtor a deadbeat. An example is going to their Facebook page and posting a message about them not paying their debts.
C) You put the judgment debtor’s picture, address, telephone number, date of birth, social security number, their relative’s or kid’s names, or some other private information about them on any web site.
I am not a lawyer, however I believe the items listed above are ranked (ABC) by the chances those kind of actions could one day be the basis of a lawsuit. If you do something similar to A, you might get a letter from a lawyer someday. If you do all three – A, B, and C; you might then someday get a judgment against you.
If you only show the public record of your judgment on a web site, I think you are OK, because any member of the public can walk into a courthouse and buy a copy of a civil judgment or get it online. (Presuming the file has not been lost or destroyed.)
Even if you only put a copy of your judgment, and then add the truth (your side of the story) in your own words, your words are not supposed to be part of any public records tied to your judgment debtor. While your words may not be libel or slander, they might be legally interpreted as causing “damage” to your judgment debtor’s reputation.
I do not recommend putting your judgment on a web site because it probably will not get you paid, and could cause hassles for you. If you think that you must share your judgment on a web site, it is safest to publicize only the copy of your judgment.