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Sunday, January 22, 2012

At the intersection of civil and criminal law


That's the last of my snow pictures. I think.

From today's SJ-R: Legal wrinkle creates debate over 'debtors' prisons' in Illinois

“The protections against debtors’ prison have a loophole,” Adams said. “That loophole is you can be sued on a debt, even if you have no conceivable way of paying it back, and if you fail to comply with each and every court order in conjunction with that case, you run the risk of being arrested and thrown into jail.”
“When you fail to show up for a court hearing, that’s when a judge finds you in contempt of court for not showing up and there is a warrant out for your arrest,” Madigan said. “That gives the lawyers the ability to say (debtors) aren’t being thrown into debtors’ prison, they’re being thrown into prison for contempt of court. To me, that’s disingenuous.”

It's not really disingenuous. A legitimate clause in the statute allows this. And, it's being used in Sangamon County with increasing frequency. Also, these same kinds of warrants are used in failure to pay child support cases.

A couple years ago, someone from the sheriff's office told me they don't actively go looking for people with these warrants. However, if they happen to stop someone for a something else, like no license plate light, and find out there's such a warrant, they'll bring them in. But, recently, I heard of one individual creditor who hounded the sheriff's office so much, they went out and picked up the debtor just to get him off their back.

Some people would like to see this clause, known as a body attachment, done away with. But that's not going to happen. More than likely, there will be a requirement added for in-person service for every court hearing, as opposed to service by mail. Of course, those costs will be added on to the debt owed.

Posted by Marie at January 22, 2012 9:03 PM


I think the disingenuous part is that the creditors, including some of the same heroic banks that drove themselves into a ditch a few years back, continue to spend resources pursuing debtors that have already established beyond a reasonable or any other kind of doubt they don't have a pot to piss in.

Posted by: Dan Author Profile Page at January 23, 2012 9:56 AM

Good point, Dan. Also, in some cases, some of those same creditors sold the debt, and those new creditors sold it again.

Posted by: Marie Author Profile Page at January 23, 2012 8:14 PM

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