Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Legal Definitions - S


Sanction – A financial penalty imposed on a party or attorney by a judge, usually for a violation of the local rules. Most judges tend to waive sanctions [not impose them] after a stern lecture. Some judges are sanction-happy and impose them for any minor technicality, probably to help increase the court's available budget.

Sealing the record – An order of the court making the court's record non-public. Criminal records of juveniles are usually sealed. Certain civil records are sealed to protect trade secrets, national security, etc. Post-foreclosure eviction records in CA are sometimes sealed by CA state law. And in certain CA counties, the parties can agree to seal the record, so the defendant/tenant's credit report does not include the fact that he was evicted. This helps the tenant because future landlords never know he was evicted. It can help the current landlord motivate the tenant to move out, but it does not help future landlords who search credit reports but never find out that this applicant is a deadbeat who has been evicted multiple times in the past.

Security deposit – A payment required by a landlord from a tenant, usually prior to the tenant moving in, to cover the possible repairs of damage to the premises greater than normal "wear and tear." If the unit has no unusual damage upon the tenant moving out [not greater than wear and tear], the landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant. Many small claims actions are filed by tenants who believe the slimy landlord completely refurbished the unit with the tenant's deposit.

Sheriff – The actual physical eviction is performed by a Deputy Sheriff, who notifies the landlord of the exact date and time of the return of possession, or “lockout.” The landlord arrives at the property on that date/time with a locksmith, the Sheriff forcibly removes the occupants, and the locksmith changes the locks. Most of the time, the Sheriff will allow the occupants 5-10 minutes to collect necessaries like medications. Thereafter, the prior occupants must make an appointment with the landlord to retrieve any remaining personal property. The landlord is not permitted to inform the occupants of the exact date and time of the lockout, because sometimes Sheriff deputies are injured, or worse, by disgruntled occupants.

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