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An Interesting Exchange over Judgment and Execution.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | November 27, 2011

No. 762

Expert Advice When You Need It Most

Can a writ of execution be issued the same day a judgment is awarded or must you give notice?

Asked 2 days ago – Sarver, PA Practice area: Debt Collection – Edit

Had someone file at court records department for a judgment and at the same time file with sheriff’s office for a writ of execution. No notification was given to me about costs. Judgment was paid long ago, but plaintiff now wants filing fees so they made the court award into a judgment and IMMEDIATELY filed a writ of execution. Don’t they have to give notice that money is owed????
Isn’t this part of due process?

Attorney answers (3)

 Avvo Pro

Contributor Level 7
Answered 2 days ago. This attorney is licensed in Missouri.
I recently asked this question of a debt collection attorney in the state of Missouri at the Missouri bar fall committee meetings for commercial law; much to my surprise, he advised me that the practice allows the garnishment to be filed even before the case is not yet a final judgment.
However the actual process of the paperwork typically takes 3 to 4 weeks, and usually occurs after the judgment has become final. If an early garnishment occurs, the process to attack it would be by a motion to quash garnishment.
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Dorothy G Bunce

1 person likes this answer
Posted 1 day ago. This attorney is licensed in Pennsylvania.

This is a Pennsylvania Civil Procedure matter. Missouri law is irrelevant.

Posted about 22 hours ago. This attorney is licensed in Missouri.

Of course Missouri procedural law is not the governing authority for a PA court matter. Nevertheless, my experience is that procedural process in the various states often have similarities that may assist the inquirant in understanding the process of law–an understanding that allows inquirant to be better informed when considering his/her options.

You are fortunate that the responses of “a lawyer from Missouri and one from Alabama” have prompted the definitive response from  atty Cliffird  L. Tuttle, Jr. on the procedural  issue of  “default judgments” –a phrase you never mentioned in your original inquiry, but perhaps irrelevant to PA law, where distinguishing a default Jmt from one obtained after the issues have been joined may  bear  no relevance.

But what do I or Atty Shepard of AL know: we are, after all, “irrelevant [whose] answers should not have been given”.

There is a lesson here: always trust a lawyer whose Avvo image shows him dressed in a dinosaur suit with a briefcase shaking hands with a a human in a suit… Really, how can you possibly go wrong with such 65 million year old gravitas?

Posted about 20 hours ago. This attorney is licensed in Pennsylvania.

The inquirer had a judgment followed quickly by a writ of execution. He says that he had paid the debt. He wants to know what to do. Although he does not say that there was a default judgment taken, chances are pretty good, given the facts stated, that this is the situation, not one in which judgment is taken “after the issues are joined.” If the inquirer had filed an answer, he most likely would have defended on the grounds that the debt had been paid and the case would be going to trial. If so, the judgment can be opened, as a matter of course, under the Rules of Civil Procedure within ten days. There is more to the story, of course, but the inquirer needs to have a conversation with a Pennsylvania lawyer and needs to do it quick.
As a matter of fact, we have nothing in Pennsylvania like garnishment in advance of judgment. I’ll stand by my irrelevant comment. However, I don’t wish to make a personal attack on any lawyer anywhere. To the extent you took it that way, I apologize. Once this dialogue is complete, I’ll post it on my blog.

Contributor Level 6
Answered 2 days ago. This attorney is licensed in Alabama.
In many states, a plaintiff does not have to wait for a judgment to become final before he starts the collection process. When doing so, the plaintiff takes the risk that he may spend time and expense pursing a judgment that could be appealled and reversed. Nevertheless, the more aggressive plaintiff often move forward immediately.As for your liability for court costs, go back and look at the judgment. It probably did give you “notice” of your liability if it contained language like “costs taxed to the defendant”. This is the typical way in which a party becomes liable for the opposing party’s costs.

Legal disclaimer: These comments are provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No… more

 Avvo Pro

Contributor Level 7
Answered 1 day ago. This attorney is licensed in Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, a lawyer from Missouri and one from Alabama. However you are in Pennsylvania and these two answers should not have been given because the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure govern the answer.The answer depends upon the circumstances of the judgment. In the case of a default judgment, a writ of execution can be issued the same day because there is no appeal. However, you are able to open a default judgment within ten days, provided you have a valid defense — which it appears you do. You should not be doing this yourself. Speak to a lawyer immediately.

Clifford L. Tuttle, Jr
Attorney at Law
Pittsburgh, PA


CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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