09.18.15 |
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Court Ruling Halts New Garnishments in Gwinnett County, GA

Gwinnett CountyLast week, Richard T. Alexander, Jr., Clerk of State Courts of Gwinnett County, GA issued a memorandum halting new garnishments after a federal judge ruled “the state law that governs the process is unconstitutional.”1 Moving forward, no summons will be issued until the state’s garnishment statute is either revised or the injunction is removed.2

You can read a report on the case here.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Tony Strickland, whose bank account holding solely worker’s compensation benefits was garnished by creditors during a time of critical health need. According to reports such as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the judge said the state law violated constitutional guarantees of due process by not giving debtors enough notice about the types of funds that are exempt from garnishment and how to claim those exemptions.3 Furthermore, the law didn’t provide a procedure to have a hearing on an exemption claim quickly enough.4

As a part of the memorandum, the Clerk said that garnishment answers in pending cases will continue to be accepted, but that all payments associated with those answers will be returned to the garnishee until further notice.

Other Georgia state courts are already following suit. Fulton County recently announced they are following the same procedures as Gwinnett County and its likely more counties will do the same in the days and weeks to come. It is important to continue monitoring these developments.
 
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1, 3, 4Georgia’s garnishment law unconstitutional – http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/georgias-garnishment-law-unconstitutional/nnbrF/?icmp=AJC_internallink_09105_AJCtoMyAJC_garnishment
2 http://www.gwinnettcourts.com/about/pressreleases/Strickland%20Case%20Notice%20to%20Garnishees.pdf



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