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Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Legal Definitions - G
A to Z Blogging Challenge. My topic is LEGAL DEFINITIONS EXPLAINED IN PLAIN [AND HOPEFULLY HUMOROUS] ENGLISH.
Gag order – An order by a judge which prevents the parties and attorneys from discussing a case with the public or the media. The purpose of a gag order is usually to prevent tainting the jury pool, so potential jurors don't learn information which they aren't supposed to know or don't form an opinion about the case before they hear the official evidence at trial. Sometimes this is referred to as “preventing the parties from trying the case in the media.”
Garnishment – A collection device where, after the tenant is evicted and a money judgment is entered for the past-due rent and other costs, the creditor/landlord attaches the wages of the debtor/tenant, requiring the debtor's employer to send 25% of the debtor's paycheck to the creditor each pay period. Most debtors then go back to court and whine that they don't have the money to pay the debt, despite that the debt is close to ten years old [if my firm's collections department hasn't been very efficient] and if the debtor had sent even $25 per month for all those years, the debt would be entirely paid off by now. But since the debt is now close to ten years old, and post-judgment interest has accrued at the rate of 10%, plus we can add collection costs, the current debt has ballooned to an amount more than twice the original judgment. Most of the time, my clients agree to reduce the garnishment to something like $100-200 per pay period, instead of 25% of the paycheck. Sometimes, however, reducing the payment that low results in the payment not even covering the monthly interest amount, meaning the debtor will NEVER pay off the debt. Some debtors thumb their noses at my clients by quitting their jobs, requiring us to find them again, or filing for bankruptcy.
Grace period - A time stated in a contract in which a late payment or performance may be made without penalty. For example – the rent is due on the first day of the month, and a late fee applies if the rent is not paid by the third day of the month. This is the same as stating there is a two-day grace period. Some tenants interpret this to mean the rent is not due until the third day of the month, and approximately ninety percent of the time, those tenants are upset when a Notice to Pay Rent is posted on their door on the second day of the month.
Grant deed – In an attempt to forestall a foreclosure sale, some homeowners sign a grant deed gifting their property to a third person, usually someone who is currently in bankruptcy. Oftentimes, these third persons have no idea that this property was gifted to them, because it was done fraudulently to delay the foreclosure sale. This causes the lender to go to the bankruptcy court and obtain permission to conduct the foreclosure sale, which almost always is granted because the person who filed that bankruptcy case is not on the loan. Then at the eviction trial, Plaintiff's counsel [yes, I've done this] produces the fraudulent grant deed that the prior owner thought was so smart, and the prior owner is summarily evicted without any recourse whatsoever, because they are no longer the immediately-prior owner but an owner “farther down the chain of title.” Mwahahaha.
Guarantor - a person who agrees to be responsible for another person's debt or performance under a contract if the other fails to pay or perform. For example – a young person obtains his parents' signature as guarantor on a car loan or a rental agreement, because he has no credit history. When the young person fails to make the payments, the guarantor oftentimes finds himself a party to a lawsuit and eventually responsible for a money judgment, see garnishment above. Occasionally a guarantor will find himself with an eviction on his credit report. Most of my clients will work with the guarantor to remove the eviction from his credit report but only AFTER the guarantor pays the judgment in full. Therefore, I don't recommend being a guarantor.