Informational Articles For Attorneys
By Tomson Sheh
1. What is a money judgement? A court determination in which the relief granted to the successful litigant is a sum of money.
- 2. When does a money judgement become enforceable?
- When clerk of the court signs and files the judgement. This is also called “entering” the judgement. The clerk then files the judgement roll and dockets the judgement.
- 3. How long can one enforce a judgement?
- Twenty years from the date the judgement roll is filed. After this period there is a conclusive presumption of payment. (section 211(b) CPLR)
- 4. What is the rate of interest on a judgement?
- 9% per annum. (section 5004 CPLR)
- 5. After full payment, how does one remove the judgement of record?
- A duly executed and acknowledged satisfaction of judgement must be filed with the County Clerk. If the judgement was never docketed, it is filed with the clerk of the court who entered the judgement. (section 5021 CPLR)
- 6. Who else besides the judgement creditor can execute the satisfaction?
- The Attorney of Record has this authority during the ten-year period after the entry of the judgement. (section 5020(b) CPLR)
- 7. When does a money judgement become a lien on real property?
- When the judgement is docketed with the County Clerk in a county where the judgement debtor owns real property, or at the date of its acquisition, as to property acquired by th e debtor after the docketing of the judgement. (section 5203(a) CPLR)
- 8. Are there any exceptions to this law?
- Yes, no lien can attach if:
- The judgement debtor is the person representative of an estate;
- The judgement debtor is the State of New York, or a municipal corporation;
- The judgement was entered after the death of the judgement debtor;
- The judgement debtor did not own the property at the date when the judgement was docketed or became a lien on the property (i.e. title acquired by debtor as agent, nominee, or in trust for another; or a deed is delivered by debtor to a purchaser prior to the date of docketing).
- 9. What is a judgement docket?
- An official alphabetical index maintained by the County Clerk. When a judgement or a transcript of same is received, the Clerk enters the name of the debtor in this index. Once the entry is made, the judgement is docketed. (section 5018 CPLR)
- 10. How does one docket a Supreme Court, County or Family Court judgement?
- Docketing is automatically done by the Clerk of the County where the court is located. If docketing in other counties, it is necessary that a transcript of the docketed judgement must be ordered from the County Clerk and delivered to the County Clerks of the other counties for docketing.
- 11. How does one docket a judgement rendered by other courts?
- There is no initial automatic docketing. A transcript of judgement must be ordered from the Clerk of the Court and delivered for docketing to the Clerk of the County where the court is located. If docketing in other counties, it is necessary that a transcript of the docketed judgement must be ordered from the County Clerk and delivered to the Clerks of the other Counties for docketing.
- 12. How long does a docketed money judgement remain a lien on real property?
- Ten years from the date of filing of the judgement roll and not from the date of its docketing. This assumes there is a simultaneous docketing and filing of the judgement roll in a county where the debtor owns real property. If these conditions are not met, the ten-year lien period will be reduced by the time it takes to docket a transcript of the judgement in a county where the debtor owns the property.
- 13. Can the lien of the judgement be extended for a second ten-year period?
- Yes. An action to renew the judgement can be brought within the last year of the initial ten-year period (section 5014 CPLR). The judgement of renewal will extend the lien for an additional ten-year period starting from the expiration of the initial ten-year lien period. To effectuate this renewal, the judgement of renewal must also be docketed.
- 14. How does one enforce a money judgement against real property?
- This is done by issuing a real property execution to the sheriff of the county where the property is located.
- 15. What are legal limitations on the judgement creditor’s ability to issue a real property execution?
- No real property execution can be used if:
- a) The judgement is not a lien on real property.
- The judgement debtor is dead.
- The property is subject to a Homestead Exemption.
- The enforcement of the judgement has been stayed.
- The property is mortgaged and the judgement was recovered for all or any part of the mortgage debt.
- 16. What is the quality of title received by a purchaser at a sheriff’s execution sale?
- The purchaser acquires the right, title and interest of the judgement debtor in the property at the date when the judgement became a lien. In other words, the purchaser’s title would have the same priority position enjoyed by the docket judgement.
- 17. What is the priority position of a docketed money judgements vis-à-vis other interests or liens?
- The judgement lien is subordinate to:
- Unpaid real estate taxes
- Purchase Money Mortgages made by the debtor
- Unpaid common charges assessed against condominium units
- Any deed, mortgage or other transfer affecting title to real property delivered by the debtor prior to the date the judgement became a lien
- Filed mechanics liens for work or labor performed prior to the date the judgement became a lien
- Deeds, mortgages, liens and encumbrances recorded or filed prior to the date the judgement became a lien
- Prior docketed money judgements
- Statutory liens arising prior to the date the judgement became a lien
Note: Real property transfers delivered before docketing or lien attachment have priority over the judgement without regard to when, if ever, they are recorded. This is because a judgement lien’s priority is not governed by the recording acts but by Section 5203(a) CPLR. (see Suffolk County Federal Savings and Loan Assoc. v. Geiger, 291 NYS.2d 982)
- 18. How does the sheriff conduct the execution sale?
- After receipt of the execution the sheriff schedules a public sale. Notice of the sale is posted, published and served on the judgement debtor, and all parties having any interest in or lien on the property. (section 5236© CPLR)
At any time within one year after the sale a court “may set aside the sale for failure to comply with the requirements of the civil practice law and rules as to the notice, time or manner of such sale, if a substantial right of a party was prejudiced by the defect.”(section 2003 CPLR)
- 19. What happens to liens or interests subordinate to the docketed judgement? All subordinate liens and interests are cut off by the execution sale.
- The sale will also wipe out all docketed judgements without regard to whether they are prior or subordinate to the lien of the judgement being enforced by the sale. Senior judgement creditors can preserve their priority positions by issuing their own executions to the sheriff who is required to distribute the sale proceeds to those judgement creditors who have issued executions prior to the sale “in the order in which their judgements have priority”. (section 5236 (g)(1) CPLR).
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