Goldman & Warshaw PC, Part 2: How New Jersey judges are manipulated

With New Jersey corruption back in the news, I posted a bit about the sweet little set-up certain debt collection law firms have in the Garden State.

Although New York is cracking down on the mega-collectors like Goldman & Warshaw (“GW”), New Jersey has left these fellas virtually untouched.

As I said yesterday, the modus operandi for a GW firm is in the mass litigation that they serve up to the county court system, especially something called Special Civil Part.

When a judge is faced with 2,000 or 3,000 complaints for a judgment, he or she isn’t going to spend a lot of time on the particulars of each case. It’s not that they’re necessarily lazy–although some are intellectually lazy. It’s simply that if you have to process 2,000 small claims cases, there is only so much time.

Unlike Pennsylvania, which does not have wage garnishment, New Jersey does, and has for about 100 years or so.

The law is a statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:17-50, and as of the latest I have (2005), it says:

2A:17-50.

a. When a judgment has been recovered in the Superior Court, and where any wages, debts, earnings, salary, income from trust funds, or profits are due and owing to the judgment debtor, or thereafter become due and owing to him, to the amount of $48.00 or more a week, the judgment creditor may, on notice to the judgment debtor unless the court otherwise orders, apply to the court in which the judgment was recovered, or to the court having jurisdiction of the same, and upon satisfactory proofs, by affidavit or otherwise, of such facts, the court shall grant an order directing that an execution issue against the wages, debts, earnings, salary, income from trust funds, or profits of the judgment debtor.

[Emphasis added.]

My Google Rule source for this is the following website: OneCLE.com New Jersey Statutes Annotated, Title 2A, 17:50(a)

So it is pretty clear that if you get a judgment against you in New Jersey, and you have some wages, potentially the judgment creditor gets to send Goldman & Warshaw after you for something out of those wages. The law says, the court “shall grant an order” for a garnishment.

BUT . . .

where this is twisted against the public is that there is a limiting statute, one that caps the amount of the garnishment. It’s NJSA 2A:17-56:

2A:17-56. Limitation on amount specified in execution.

2A:17-56. a. In no case shall the amount specified in an execution issued out of any court against the wages, debts, earnings, salary, income from trust funds or profits due and owing, or which may thereafter become due and owing to a judgment debtor, exceed 10%, unless the income of such debtor shall exceed 250 % of the poverty level for an individual taking into account the size of the individual’s family, in which case the court out of which the execution shall issue may order a larger percentage.

[Emphasis added.]

OneCLE website, NJSA 2A:17-56

This is the statute where Goldman & Warshaw make all their money. As it’s clear, it says that the amount of a garnishment is capped at 10%. Capped–no more than 10%. It doesn’t say it “must be 10%”. It could be three percent, or two percent. Or a fixed amount like $20 (provided that the person earned $200 that week!)

But the law clearly does not say the judge must impose a 10% wage garnishment on a judgment debtor.

The little part about “250% of the poverty level” (about $27,000 a year for a single guy) was added by former Senator Bryant in 2005. It used to say $7,500. That part addressed circumstances where someone was making over a set limit. Then, the judge was enabled to go above 10%. Not required, enabled. So if a judgment debtor had, say, some crazy number like $40,000 a week wages (hey, some do!), then the creditor could get a bigger piece than 10%. Probably fair, right?

Every judgment debtor in New Jersey faced with wage garnishment should be pointing 2A:17-56 out to the judge, the part about the cap. But most get steamrolled. Jon Corzine has looked the other way, it appears.

Once Goldman & Warshaw obtain the 10% (or more) garnishment against the debtor, the debtor is screwed. GW sends the garnishment order down to the local Sheriff, and a person connected to that office gets to levy. This person will also be paid to levy and so has an interest in making sure the court system has that garnishment at 10%, because they get a bigger cut that way. (New Jersey sleaze at its finest.) So you’re never going to be told about 2A:17-55, a statute allowing modification of garnishment order, even.

OneCLE.com NJSA 2A:17-55

For a law firm to do the legwork for you on all of this, well, frankly, it wouldn’t pay them (if you don’t have the money for the judgment you probably don’t have it for a law firm). But I am surprised that the pro bono public aid law groups haven’t jumped all over this, years ago.

Every debtor in New Jersey facing a wage garnishment should state to the judge that the law does not require 10%. It simply says “not exceed 10%”. This means UP TO 10%. And explain why you can’t afford it: the fact-finding part that is supposed to go with granting a wage garnishment(!) that most New Jersey judges leave out.

Again, I don’t know why Governor Corzine wasn’t on this. Probably because the state is falling apart in countless other ways, and he has been spending the time just keeping the roof over people’s heads (foreclosure crisis). The fact that he put Goldman & Warshaw on the state payroll has me a bit concerned, but I am sure in the end it’s the fact that no one has pointed the excessive wage garnishment game out to him.

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13 thoughts on “Goldman & Warshaw PC, Part 2: How New Jersey judges are manipulated

  1. I know this one’s gotten a lot of hits over the last year. And I want to make sure I’m being clear: if you really owe the debt (they must prove this) and you DO get a judgment against you, make sure you talk to the judge and make sure you knock that garnishment down to some low amount that you can afford.

    If you don’t do this, you’re going to be stuck with a 10% garnishment.

  2. This is very easy: if you get a garnishment you can’t afford, you write the judge and ask for a modification under NJSA 2A:17-56. MAKE SURE YOU MAKE IT CLEAR TO THE JUDGE WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD. Depending on the Special Civil Part, there may be forms to help do this.

  3. I got a summons from Capital One today, but I don’t have a job and I don’t own anything, except a vehicle that is probably worth $800. They claim I owe $2400 after fees and interest. So, what do I do now? I have no income or anything!!

    • Linda, I can’t give advice for your specific situation over the internet. But, I can say as a generality, there is one thing the lender (Capital One) must do, and one thing YOU must do.

      1) The lender must prove the debt. Make sure they do this.

      2) You MUST show up in court, and explain your situation to the judge. Don’t ignore the court–you will end up with a default judgment against you.

      Best of luck and God bless you. Tough times don’t last, tough people do.

  4. goldman&warshow p.c are one big fraud that ny state have them invstigated
    dont mind them and all the judge of n.j that abuse the people of n.j

  5. bergen county judges are acting as rubber stamps for law firm like goldman&warshaw that are under investigation for fraud in ny state and facing law suit in federal courts for fraud.
    [A]n illegal credit card collections judge liliana selbi is one of this judges that are the enemys
    of the people she will rubber stamp judgment against people and will never give them due process of the law shame on bergen county judges that wont give people the time and the day

  6. I am a mom of two toddlers and is unemployed. I was sued by Goldman and Warshaw. Since 2008. the case was dimissed in 2009, they sued me again in 2010 that case was dismissed in 2011. Now somehow the got the judge to reinstated the dismissed case and when i show up to trail today i wsa told to go to medation and boy did they corner me. They had two docket # for the SAME case and i was told that one ws dismissed and the other was reinstated. I am so confused. can they do that. I was force to agreed to a payment plan and was told that i dont have to pay until the next three month that way i can get a job. I really did not know what to do know i sign to pay them and i really feel that i did not get fair justice. hwlp me get some peace of mind.

    • Elissa, this is just general advice, and not meant to be taken as legal advice.

      A judge can dismiss a case, and have it be “without prejudice”. This means there was some problem the first time, but the suer has the right to come back and have his/her day in court. It may be that the 2008/2009 case was dismissed “without prejudice”.

      I don’t exactly know what happened to you, but it sounds like you got corralled into one of those “mediation by agreement” sessions. When I practiced law a very little bit, I saw these type things in both Philadelphia and New Jersey. In order to get rid of cases, the court administration encourages people to work out a deal with the opposing side. I do not know what happened, but it sounds like you agreed to pay the creditor (the company who hired Goldman and Warshaw), instead of going before a judge to see if that company would get a judgment. It does not sound like they have a judgment against you, but only your promise to pay.

      I cannot advise you on what is the best thing to do. As “life advice”, though, if you do owe the money, you should try to make some kind of arrangement. Ideally, not with Goldman & Warshaw, though. They are, frankly, not very nice, and in some states where they don’t have so much sway over the court administrators (like New York, for example), the court system comes down on their shenanigans. But in New Jersey, they get to lord it over the place.

      Just remember that in the end, it is really for the judge to decide if you owe anything, what you owe, and what you should pay. If you think that your mediation agreement was not “fair justice”, then you should find an attorney in New Jersey who will help you get “fair justice”. Good luck to you.

  7. I would default and get an out of state bank account. These slime balls watch your bank accounts, so if you get one outside of NJ or one that does not have a branch in NJ, they cannot get access to your account. There are several banks that work online only, this way you still can access your money, pay your bills, use free ATM’s etc. There is a law in NJ that no one can put a garnishment on your bank accounts if there is not a branch in NJ. It may be an option for you! Good Luck!

  8. If I am making payments as agreed to the debt collectors, can they still garnish my wages?. it seems that GW is still garnishing my wages even though i have been making payments and i have proof that i have been making payements to them. its this even legal?

    • I agree that it smells fishy. If the judge issued a wage garnishment order, why do you have to pay extra on the same debt? It might be illegal, but I have a feeling Goldman & Warshaw would say “oops” if you call them on it before the judge.

      My personal (not legal) advice: write the judge and cc Goldman & Warshaw.

  9. GOLDMAN &WARSHAW WILL LIE IN COURT AND WILL DO ANYTHING TO WIN
    INCLUDING FRAUD ON THE COURT AND IGNORA[NT] NJ JUDGES THAT WON’T EVEN
    FORCE THEM TO PROVIDE ANY EVIDENCE ARE THERE TO SUPPORT THEM

    • I have to say that your opinion is supported by others who have written me on occasion. It’s really time that Chief Justice Rabner (who runs all the courts of New Jersey) do something about the situation, but I live in Pennsylvania now.

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