Happy October the first! I cover a lot of legal issues here. Many of them are bad – like the New Jersey Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the police no longer need a warrant to search your vehicle. Fourth Amendment be damned.
However, I am so happy to report good news! For the economically disadvantaged among us (many and growing) and those in danger of joining them (most of the rest) the news doesn’t get much better than this:
Last month a Federal Judge struck down Georgia’s debt collection garnishment law as Unconstitutional! See also: here and here.
The Judge was Marvin Shoob, whom I know from experience to be a class act and one of the fairest jurists around.
Tuesday’s ruling by U.S. District Senior Judge Marvin Shoob said the statute violated constitutional guarantees of due process by not giving debtors enough notice about the sorts of funds that are exempt from garnishment and how to claim those exemptions. He said the statute also didn’t provide a procedure to adjudicate exemption claims quickly enough.
Although the ruling rests on protecting the rights of individual consumers whose funds may be protected from creditors, it could affect all sorts of garnishments, including those that arise from business disputes and child support orders. Lawyers are debating whether simple changes in forms and procedures can allow garnishments to proceed prior to any legislative fix or further court ruling.
“People are panicking,” said Harriet Isenberg, who co-chairs the creditors’ rights section of the State Bar of Georgia.
Alyson Palmer, Collections-Lawyers-Scramble-After-Garnishment-Law-Is-Struck, Fulton County Daily Report, September 10, 2015.
Good. Let them panic. They deserve it for a change as do their money-changing masters.
The subject case stemmed from a judgment collection action by a major credit card company against a poor man in Gwinnett County. I know these cases well. When I was a law clerk I reviewed hundreds of them – each the same. The banks file suit with no evidence whatsoever that any debt is owed and in 90% of their cases they win a default judgment.
It’s a terrible shame. They don’t have any proof. One or two Request for Admission questions and these cases would be dismissed. The poor don’t know. The banks (and the State) don’t care.
Once the bank has a default judgment they file a wage or bank garnishment in an attempt to recover some of their (proof-less) monies. As Judge Shoob points out the garnishment procedure is as crooked as the rest of the process.
As an aside, even if these banks could prove they had loaned money in the first place, I still wouldn’t feel bad for them losing it. It never really existed, being a product of the Federal Reserve’s illegal funny money ponzi scheme. More on that another time.
For now the banksters and their vulture collection agents will have to comply with the law. Otherwise, “using a statute that has been declared unconstitutional to seek collection of consumer debt arguably would violate the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.” Daily Report, supra. That means the bank would end up owing and facing stiff penalties. Ha!
Banks and other large companies run the State of Georgia. They will have this ruling nullified somewhere and soon. There’s even talk of a special session of the ordinarily do-nothing General Assembly in order to bring the law into compliance with the Constitution. Imagine that.
For now the banksters are feeling the panic their ancient predecessors felt when a certain Street Preacher ran them out of the Temple. The rest of us are feeling a little relief. Thank you Judge Shoob.