Sunday, April 20, 2008

Collections: The Limits of Indiana's Jurisdiction

There are rules for getting at defendants who live out of state in order to get a judgment but for this post I am assuming that getting paid is the issue and not getting a judgment.

Indiana's civil jurisdiction ends at its border. Subpoenas, orders to appear and the like have no force outside of Indiana. Which means the judgment defendant cannot be compelled to return to Indiana for a hearing.

However, the court can issue a body attachment which would be effective if the judgment defendant were to return to the county where the court was that entered the judgment.

Just as an Indiana court cannot get a person residing outside of Indiana, neither can the court issues orders taking property lying outside of Indiana.

Garnishment might be a whole different thing. If the judgment defendant works for some company doing business in Indiana, then the judgment defendant's wages could be garnished.

When I started practicing law any discussion of collection against someone outside of Indiana would end there. With all the bank consolidations of the past twenty years, the discussion needs to go onto bank garnishments.

Most people think garnishment means taking a person's wages. It is that and a bit more. Garnishment is a legal proceeding where the creditor gets an order from a court to a third party who owes the judgment defendant money to pay the creditor the amount owed to the judgment defendant. Banks are in the position of a debtor to their depositors. Which means, if the judgment defendant lives out of state but has an Indiana bank then the judgment defendant should expect a garnishment on that account.

Everything sounds good for a debtor, right? Not really. All the judgment creditor need do is domestic the Indiana judgment in the state where the judgment defendant lives now.