Say your client has obtained a judgment against a debtor in another state. If the judgment debtor has assets in New York, attaching the judgment to those assets may be an effective way for your client to enforce the judgment and collect on the debt. But before this can happen, the judgment must be domesticated in New York.
Procedure for domesticating out-of-state judgments
In New York, the procedure for domesticating out-of-state judgments, which are also called foreign sister-state judgments, varies based on how the judgment was obtained. The law allows for a streamlined process for the domestication of judgments that were decided on their merits after the opposing party presented a defense. But for judgments that were obtained by default of appearance or a confession, the process is more complex.
Judgments obtained based on their merits
Under Article 54 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR), New York will extend full faith and credit to out-of-state judgments entered after the judgment debtor appeared in and defended against the claims in the underlying proceedings. To register this type of judgment in New York, a creditor must submit a certified or exemplified copy of the out-of-state judgment and an affidavit stating that the judgment was not obtained by default or by a confession of judgment, that it is unsatisfied in whole or in part, the unpaid balance, that enforcement has not been stayed, and the name and last known address of the judgment debtor.
An exemplified judgment is a copy of a judgment with a certificate attached that is usually signed three times, once by a judge and twice by court clerks, attesting to the authenticity and validity of the judgment. This may also be referred to as an authenticated judgment or a triple certified judgment.
A certified copy of a judgment is typically signed once by the clerk of the court and has the seal of the court.
Judgments obtained based on default
If the judgment was entered because the judgment debtor either failed to show up or confessed judgment in the underlying case, the streamlined process described above is not available. Instead, judgment creditors must bring a new lawsuit in New York. However, CPLR 3213 provides a shortcut from traditional litigation by allowing creditors to file a motion for summary judgment in lieu of a complaint. By serving the defendant with a summons, a motion for summary judgment, and supporting documents, a plaintiff can avoid the costly discovery phase of litigation and domesticate the judgment quickly and relatively cheaply. New York courts routinely grant motions for summary judgment seeking domestication of out-of-state judgments, although there are certain procedural requirements that creditors should take care to follow in order to avoid costly delays.
We can help
Domesticating an out-of-state judgment in New York may be an effective way to enforce a judgment, and we are here to help. With vast experience in judgment enforcement matters, the attorneys at Katz Melinger PLLC represent individuals and businesses in state and federal courts throughout New York. Contact Katz Melinger PLLC at 212-460-0047 or online.