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Washington Judgement Records

Washington Judgment records are official documents containing the final order of a court regarding a civil dispute or a criminal offense. Judgments may be penalties in form of jail time, probationary sentences, or monetary compensation depending on the nature and severity of the offense or dispute. Washington state courts generate and maintain these records as part of official public records.

Like other Washington court records, interested and eligible persons may view or obtain copies of judgment records from record custodians or state repositories. Judgment records typically feature information regarding the crime or dispute, the parties involved, and other court-related information. Also included in a judgment record is a statement of account from the prosecution and defense, the rights and duties of the parties following the hearing, a case summary of pleadings, and the court’s finding of fact.

What is a Judgment?

According to the Washington Revised Code, a judgment is a final determination made by a court of the rights and claims of the parties in an action. It typically encompasses the court’s conclusion as well as actionable demands for the plaintiff and defendant (where applicable). Usually, judgments are made based on the evidence presented, the testimony of all the parties involved, and the legal rights and liabilities of the parties given the facts stated.

In civil matters heard in Washington state, judgments are often accompanied by a monetary award to the winning party. The debtor, in this case, is obligated to fulfill their financial obligation to the winner or face further legal action. The types of judgment issued in Washington courts include default judgments, consent judgments, and summary judgments. The states appeal courts, superior courts, and courts of limited jurisdiction carry out the judicial task of issuing judgments.

Washington Judgment Laws

The Revised Code of Washington contains the state’s provisions on the entry, enforcement, and collection of judgments within the state’s judicial district. Interested persons may view Title 4 and Title 6 of the RCW, to understand the state’s civil procedure, its general provisions on judgments, property exemptions, executions, garnishments, and supplemental execution as applicable to the case. The state’s judgment laws also outline the responsibilities of both parties relative to the outcome of the case.

What is Judgment Lien?

Also known as an abstract of judgment, a judgment lien refers to a type of lien attached to the property of a debtor to ensure that they fulfill their financial obligation to the creditor. The need for a judgment lien arises when the debtor hesitates or simply opts not to pay the debt owed. In this case, the creditor may file a petition with the court to be issued a lien to transfer the proceeds of the sale of the property to the creditor.

In most parts of the U.S. judgment liens are created automatically if the debtor has property in the judicial district where the judgment was issued. On the other hand, if the property is in a different jurisdiction, the creditor may proceed to record the judgment with the County Clerk of the county where the judgment was issued. Judgment liens remain valid until the specified date of its expiration.

What is a Washington Summary Judgement?

In Washington state, a summary judgment is a type of judgment that is issued without a trial. These judgments are declared when one of the parties in the suit files a motion to dismiss the claim of the other party during the pre-trial proceedings. Following the filing, the court may opt to make a ruling or issue an order in favor of the claimant or defendant. If the court chooses to dismiss the case on account of the pre-trial suit, the resulting order is deemed a summary judgment. However, these judgments are issued when there is proof beyond reasonable doubt that there's insufficient basis to proceed to trial.

What is a Summary Judgment Motion in Washington?

A summary judgment motion in Washington refers to the formal application made by the party seeking a judgment without trial. Per civil rule 56 of the Washington Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment motions must be heard at least 14 calendar days prior to the set trial date, except the court grants a leave to allow otherwise.

The party requesting a summary judgment must file and serve the motion as well as all supporting documents and affidavits no later than 28 days before the hearing. The adverse party, on the other hand, may file their opposing argument 11 days to the hearing, while the moving party will have 6 calendar days to file a rebuttal.

The moving party is required to request a summary judgment on the basis of their personal knowledge, and they must be prepared to testify in support of their claim. Similarly, the adverse party must respond to the motion in a manner that demonstrates a genuine issue to be taken to trial. Where the adverse party fails to respond or is unable to demonstrate genuine issues, the court is more than likely to grant a summary judgment motion. On the other hand, if the moving party is found to have filed the motion in bad faith, the court may order that the moving party cover the costs of the adverse party’s court fees and related expenses incurred when the motion was filed.

Washington Judgment Record Search

Like most court records, Washington judgment records are deemed public record information per the state’s public record laws. Under the Washington Public Information Act, interested members of the public may request to view or copy judgment records from state custodians or repositories. Provided these records do not contain information pertaining to adoption, mental illness, confidential name change, juvenile offense, and similar information sealed by court order, they are available for public access.

How Do I Look Up a Judgment in Washington?

To look up a judgment in Washington, interested and eligible persons may query the record custodian in person or via mail/telephone or use the online resources available on the website of the court of interest. Similarly, most Washington courts maintain public access terminals where requestors may access the desired records through the self-service option. Alternatively, requestors may access judgment records by subscribing to JIS-Link, a web-based subscription service maintained by the Management Services Division of Washington Courts.

Depending on the preferred method of accessing these records, the requesting party may be required to download and complete a request form containing information regarding the record of interest. However, the process for accessing these records may vary from court to court. Requestors may visit the Washington state court directory for the contact or website information of local courts in the state.

What Happens if You Have a Judgment Against You in Washington?

All judgments issued by Washington courts are binding unless overturned in a subsequent proceeding or by a court order. Hence, when a judgment is issued against an individual they become a debtor and are obligated to fulfill any court-assigned duties or obligations to their creditor. Refusal to comply with the court’s judgment deems the debtor in contempt of the court, authorizing the creditor to take further steps to enforce the court’s judgment.

How Do I Find Out if I Have Any Judgments Against Me in Washington?

Information regarding judgments issued in Washington courts is typically maintained and disseminated by various court clerks in the state’s different judicial districts. To find out if there is a judgment against an individual, interested persons may query the court clerk in the jurisdiction of interest or inquire about civil suits filed against them in their judicial district. In most cases, individuals are notified when a suit is filed against them or when a judgment is entered following the suit. Thus, requestors may also check their mail history for missed judgment notices or past civil suits.

How Long Does a Judgment Stay on Your Record in Washington?

Judgments often remain on the debtor’s record unless the judgment is overturned, or it is removed following a court order. In Washington, judgments may last as long as the statute of limitations, making it significantly difficult for the debtor to obtain loans or credit facilities. However, if the debt is paid, the debtor may petition the court to have the judgment removed.

How to Enforce a Judgment in Washington

Judgments are enforced when the debtor refuses to fulfill their court-mandated obligation to the creditor. If the debtor is defiant, the creditor may enforce the judgment by petitioning the court for a means to enforce or execute the judgment. Judgments can be enforced by the court where the judgment was issued, or the circuit court in the judicial district where the creditor is resident. However, if the judgment was issued by a foreign court, it may only be enforced in the court where the suit was first filed. To enforce a judgment, the court may place a lien or issue a writ of execution against the debtor’s property. To do so, the creditor may be required to provide a certified copy of the judgment or lien record abstract usually maintained by the clerk in the judicial district where the judgment was issued. In their application for a writ of execution, the creditor will be required to include an affidavit containing the personal information of the creditor and debtor as well as a statement explaining that the debtor has not fulfilled their court-ordered obligation following the judgment.

How to Collect a Judgment in Washington

Creditors in Washington can collect their judgment by applying to the court for a writ of execution or garnishment order. With a writ of execution, the creditor is entitled to the proceeds of the sale of the debtor's property. On the other hand, a writ of garnishment offers the creditor a part of the debtor's future earnings or the personal property of the debtor held by third parties.

According to RCW 6.27.090, the creditor is entitled to additional amounts following a garnishment proceeding, including associated court costs, filing, and ex parte fees, affidavit costs, and cost of postage mail. Garnishment proceedings may be initiated as soon as 5 days after a judgment entry. To obtain information regarding the debtor’s banks, financial status, or personal assets, the creditor’s lawyer may conduct a supplemental proceeding. In this case, the creditor will be required to petition the court for an order which will oblige the creditor to provide the required information under oath.

What Personal Property Can Be Seized in a Judgment in Washington?

Per Washington state judgment laws, most of the property of a judgment debtor can be seized in a judgment. However, RCW 6.15.050 outlines a few exemptions pursuant to the state legislature. According to this law, the following personal property is exempt from execution, attachment, and garnishment:

  • Wearing apparel not exceeding $3,500 in value including personal ornaments, jewelry, and luxury clothing
  • Private libraries
  • Personal cell phones, computers, and related accessories
  • Household goods not exceeding $6,500 in value for an individual debtor or $13,500 for a community

Washington Judgment Interest Rate

According to RCW 6.01.060, judgments issued in Washington state will bear interest from the date of its entry at the rate of 9%. However, the court may opt to halt interest accumulation until a specified date. Judgment interest rates in Washington may also apply to associated court costs, and attorney fees if the debtor is ordered to cover these costs for the creditor as part of the judgment.

What is a Default Judgment?

When a civil suit is filed in Washington, the defendant is notified and expected to respond to the plaintiff’s allegation, or appear in court depending on the case. Where the party fails to do so, the court may enter a default judgment against the defendant based on the claims of the complainant. This is considered an automatic win for the plaintiff as the court may also determine their compensatory entitlements based on the evidence presented in court.

How to File a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment in Washington

A Washington state court may set aside a default judgment in accordance with Rule 60 of the state civil rule of procedure. To file a motion to set aside a default in Washington, the defendant must prepare a Notice of Entry document and file it with the court before the allocated deadline. Copies of this document must also be filed with all parties in the case. For a default to be set aside in Washington, the defendant must satisfactorily prove that their initial absence in court is justifiable.

File Motion to Vacate Judgment in Washington

Chapter 4.72 of the RCW outlines the state’s provisions for the vacation and modification of judgments in Washington state. There are several reasons that a court can vacate or set aside a judgment in Washington ranging from new evidence to clerical errors made during the proceeding.

Either of the parties in the lawsuit may opt to file a motion to vacate a judgment after it has been declared. The basis of this motion may be new evidence, misconduct, fraudulent activity, and related causes. All motions to vacate a judgment must contain a detailed cause and a pleading, and the filing must be made no later than one year after the judgment was made according to RCW 4.72.020.

How to Remove an Abstract of Judgment in Washington

In Washington, a debtor can remove an abstract of judgment if the judgment creditor opts to offer them a release of a lien document or if they have fulfilled all the debt conditions following their judgment. As soon as the debtor pays off their debt, the lien or abstract no longer holds on their property. However, if the creditor opts to offer the debtor a release of lien without receiving their full monetary compensation, the creditor can sign the document in the presence of a notary.

Washington Judgment Statute of Limitations Law

In Washington, judgments are good for a minimum of 10 years. According to the state’s revised statutes, judgments can only be enforced against a debtor 10 years after its initial entry. During this time, the creditor may petition the court for a writ of execution or garnishment in order to collect their entitlements. To extend the deadline for a judgment, the creditor can petition the court within the first 3 months of the expiration of the initial 10-year period. However, a judgment cannot be extended past 20 years of its entry in Washington state.