In today’s economy, when pillars of our communities may be facing extreme financial crisis, debt collection lawsuits or bankruptcy, it is no longer fitting to call someone a “deadbeat” for not paying their credit card bills.
This is especially true in light of much of the conduct of banks toward their customers. Banks lie about mortgage modifications, fail to properly perform foreclosures, and increase interest rates on credit cards without reason or prior notification just to name a few of abuses in the industry. Is it too big a leap to think that creditors would be dishonest or unfair in the way that they conduct litigation?
As I travel the courtrooms of the state of Georgia, arguing on behalf of the citizens of this state, one thing becomes increasingly clear. When it comes to consumer credit cases, many judges just don’t get it.
Judges are elected by the citizens of the district they serve. The people who are sued and come before them as defendants in debt collection lawsuits are the same people that pull the levers in the voting booths on Election Day. Citibank does not vote for the judge. Citibank is in South Dakota. Chase Bank is in Manhattan, New York. Discover is in Illinois.
American Express, Capital One, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America are all non-residents of the State of Georgia. Nevertheless, many of the judges in this state go out of their way to cater to the interests of these banks at the expense of the citizens who elect them to serve.redirected here!
To be clear, I do not think that judges owe any special treatment to defendants in civil suits because they want to get their vote, but they do owe the citizens of their circuit the duty to be fair and impartial in their rulings, and to treat them and their lawyers with respect.
The bank is not always right. Creditors should also have to follow the same procedures and meet the same evidentiary burden that all other litigants must meet under Georgia law. All too often, I have seen judges who become angry and have even threatened me with sanctions for having chosen to defend my clients against a debt collection lawsuit, or for me insisting that the creditors prove their case according to law.
Some judges are of the opinion that since the lawsuit is for a consumer debt, unless the defendant denies making the purchases, or claims to be a victim of identity theft, that they have no defense. They do not generally come to this opinion because they are well versed in this area of the law. I usually find the opposite. They get indignant because these types of cases are rarely defended against; leaving the appearance that there is no defense. The thinking is that “the way we have always done things has not been challenged, so it must be right.”
When a challenge is made to the way a judge is used to handling debt collection lawsuits sometimes it is met with anger because their understanding of these cases leads them to believe that I am wasting valuable court time on a frivolous and indefensible matter instead of advancing the cause of consumers and helping to shape the law on this subject.see page at:http://www.mondaq.com/australia/x/429196/Consumer+Credit/Consultation+paper+on+the+regulation+of+small+amount+credit+contracts+and+consumer+leases
What these judges seem to have forgotten is that the law is alive. You cannot expect it to stay the same and cannot base your notions of morality or correctness on its current state. Slavery and “separate but equal” were the laws of this land at one time. Women were once denied the right to vote.
Prohibition was enacted and repealed.
Currently, same sex marriage rights are being established in courts throughout this country and marijuana laws are being relaxed and repealed in many states. The way we view consumer credit and the role that consumer financing should play in the economy of this country is also changing, and the laws and attitudes of those that interpret the laws need to change as well.