Changes to Civil Orders of Arrest

On May 31, 2011, Governor LePage signed into law An Act To Enhance Enforcement of Civil Orders of Arrest. The Act takes effect on September 28, 2011. This Act gives a judgment creditor additional tools it can use in its attempt to collect on a judgment.

After a creditor has successfully won a judgment against a debtor, the next step is often a disclosure hearing. At a disclosure hearing, the creditor has the opportunity to either ask the court to an order providing for satisfaction of the judgment, including a specific monthly payment or the sale of certain assets of the debtor.

In many cases, the debtor does not appear in court throughout the collection process. If a debtor does not appear for a disclosure hearing, the creditor has the option of requesting that the court issue a civil order of arrest.  The civil order of arrest is given to the sheriff to serve upon the debtor, who ordered to appear in court on a specified date and time and who is usually released upon the personal recognizance as long as the debtor promises to show up at the court hearing date specified on the civil order of arrest.

The new law makes the following changes to the civil order of arrest process:

  • When a debtor is released on the debtor’s personal recognizance, the debtor must provide personal identifying information and employment information to be returned to the creditor with the personal recognizance bond.
  • If a debtor fails to appear at the date and time specified on the civil order of arrest, the creditor will be able to request that the court order the Department of Labor to provide to the creditor the debtor’s most recent employment information.
  • If the creditor requests that a second civil order of arrest issue, the debtor will not be able to be released on the debtor’s personal recognizance, but will instead have to be arrested and brought to the court for a bond to issue.

The new rules do not change the criminal penalty for failing to appear at the date and time specified on the civil order of arrest, which is a Class E crime. However, these enhancements will give a creditor more information  regarding the debtor’s employment, potentially allowing the creditor to obtain a wage withholding order from the debtor’s employer.  It is anticipated that these changes in the current law will also make it far less likely that a debtor will fail to appear for a disclosure hearing.

Maine Attorney Stanley Greenberg of Greenberg & Greenberg in Portland, Maine deserves special recognition for sheperding this new law through the legislative process.

The creditors rights attorneys at Gosselin & Dubord, P.A. are experienced litigators who have successfully prosecuted many collections actions on behalf of clients. If you have any questions regarding collection of judgments or need representation in connection with any creditor matter in Maine, please contact Attorney David R. Dubord at 207-783-5261, extension 212 or drd@gosselindubord.com.