Text message reminders, comprehensible notices, expanded hearing options, a “compliance checklist”: these are among the recommendations in the Center’s latest report on how to reduce the staggering number of default judgments in debt-collection cases.
About half of all cases brought by third-party debt collectors in Philadelphia Municipal Court result in default judgments, in which the Court awards the full amount requested by the creditor without hearing the alleged debtor’s side of the story. These judgments further impoverish Philadelphians who may already be at the lower end of the income ladder.
“Six Practical Ways Courts Can Reduce Default Judgments in Debt Collection Cases,” authored by students Adam Karbeling and Jessie Hemmons, discusses why defendants may not appear for their hearings, and finds that — contrary to conventional wisdom — those reasons often have nothing to do with carelessness or a lack of interest in being heard. Drawing on experience from jurisdictions around the country, Adam and Jessie discuss six relatively easy steps that courts can take to make the entry of default judgments less likely.
In a separate post, Adam and Jessie discuss their experience putting together the report.