Default judgment

October 9th, 2009  |  Published in legal system

If you get served with a complaint and do nothing, eventually the court will issue a default judgment against you. Basically, the default judgment is the court’s way of saying: “you were told someone was suing you and you were told to respond with your side of the story. Since I didn’t hear anything from you, I am going to assume the plaintiff’s side of the story is true and I am going let the plaintiff win.”

A common reaction to getting sued is, well, not to deal with it. No one wants to get sued and most people don’t really know what to do — so they have a tendency just to ignore the problem.

Not dealing with it is a really bad idea, because it will lead to a default judgment. If you get served with a complaint, you get legal advice right away and I’m not just saying this because I’m a lawyer. Once you get a default judgment against you, it can be extremely hard, or even impossible, to do anything about it later. If someone’s suing you for money, once they get the default judgment, they can start to collect their money.

I know most people don’t have a lawyer, so I’m  going to talk about some ways to find a lawyer and things to think about when hiring a lawyer in a later post.

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Pro se

October 6th, 2009  |  Published in basics, legal system

When a person is not represented by a lawyer in court, then that person is acting pro se.  Pro se means “for oneself” in Latin. In some legal proceedings, like divorces or probate (handling a person’s affairs after they’ve died)  many people appear pro se. Sometimes the court will have written instructions or special forms to help people who are pro se. If you don’t see any forms available, you should ask the clerks (people who work at the courthouse and handle filings). Ask nicely — if the clerks deal with a lot of pro se people, they will appreciate it if you are polite to them.

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