Showing posts with label garnishment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label garnishment. Show all posts

Friday, September 11, 2015

Federal judge rules against procedures used in Georgia's garnishment law

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that a federal judge ruled that procedures set forth in Georgia’s garnishment law are unconstitutional.



According to the newspaper, the judge ruled that the law is flawed because it doesn’t require creditors to tell debtors that some money — like Social Security benefits, welfare payments and workers’ compensation — is off limits to garnishments. 

When that money is wrongly taken, the law doesn’t require creditors to tell people how to get it back, and it doesn’t provide a timely procedure for determining whether funds should have been exempt, U.S. District Court Senior Judge Marvin H. Shoob wrote.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Tony Strickland after creditors seized his Social Security disability income and his workers’ compensation settlement. He filed his original lawsuit, which was dismissed by a court. He then filed an appeal of that dismissal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which overturned the lower court dismissal allowing for the trial to go forward.  

While the judgment applies only to Gwinnett County, it will likely to affect courts statewide.

Richard Alexander, Gwinnett’s clerk of courts, was named in the suit. Alexander said he will follow the ruling, but does not know what the rest of the state might do.

“Here, we’ve stopped,” he said. “We won’t be sending any more summons. We won’t disburse funds. We’re going to follow the court’s order.”

A spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, which argued in favor of the existing law, said officials are still reviewing the decision and had no comment.

Richard Howe, managing partner of the collection firm Howe & Associates, said he does not think the ruling will stick if the state or Gwinnett decides to appeal. Appellate courts have upheld the existing garnishment law in the past, he said.


A garnishment occurs when a creditor claims that someone has not paid a debt. To collect the money, the creditor can file a lawsuit. If the debtor doesn’t reply within 30 days, an automatic judgment is issued, and wages or assets can be seized.