COVID-19 and the steps taken by local, state, and federal governments to combat its spread have affected every facet of society, including the Connecticut Judicial Branch and the state’s 15 Superior Courts. With Executive Order No. 7G, Gov. Ned Lamont suspended all non-critical court operations in early March.
The Judicial Branch then issued a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) under which the courts are handling only Priority 1 Business Functions. (The Judicial Branch continues to provide updated information about court services on its website.)
While many Priority 1 matters are narrow and clearly defined, ex parte motions are a broad category. An ex parte motion can be filed by one party, for that party’s benefit, and is decided by a court without the input of the opposing party.
One of the most common is an Ex Parte Prejudgment Remedy, a legal remedy used when someone owes you money and isn’t paying.
This remedy allows a creditor to secure debts owed by attaching the property of the debtor in order to avoid any prospective attempts by the debtor to hide, move or otherwise dispose of property that can be utilized to satisfy the debt.
Furthermore, an application for prejudgment remedy allows a creditor-plaintiff to seek the attachment of the debtor-defendant’s real property before judgment against the defendant has been rendered.
In most cases, a prejudgment remedy can be sought before a summons and complaint has been served on the defendant. The purpose of the remedy is to ensure that if the plaintiff is successful at trial, they are able to secure the awarded sum from the defendant.
While the classical assertion of an application for prejudgment remedy requires a hearing to be held, an application for an Ex Parte Prejudgment Remedy does not require a hearing in order for a prejudgment remedy to be awarded. It is precisely this lack of a hearing that makes ex parte prejudgment remedies available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to be awarded an Ex Parte Prejudgment Remedy, the first step is to file an application. Importantly, a plaintiff must include a signed writ, summons, and complaint with the application. These documents allow the court to determine the parties to the action, as well as the subject matter of the action.
Additionally, the application requires the submission of an affidavit by the plaintiff or another person who personally knows the facts required to be set forth in the affidavit. This affidavit must include a statement of facts that shows probable cause that a judgment in the amount of the sought prejudgment remedy, or in an amount greater than the amount of the prejudgment remedy being asked for after considering any known defenses, counterclaims or set-offs, will be decided in the matter for the plaintiff. Furthermore, the facts set forth in the affidavit must show that the defendant:
1. Has hidden or will hide himself or herself so that process cannot be served on him or her; or
2. Is about to remove himself or herself or his or her property from this state; or
3. Is about to fraudulently dispose of or has fraudulently disposed of any of his or her property with the intent to hinder, delay or defraud his or her creditors; or
4. Has fraudulently hidden or withheld money, property or other items which should be liable to the satisfaction of his debts.
If the court determines the affidavit sets forth facts that demonstrate one of these four elements, the likelihood of being awarded a prejudgment remedy increases greatly.
If the court determines one of these four elements has not been satisfied, the application will be denied. Along with the writ, summons, complaint, and affidavit, an application also requires the submission of certain judicial forms.
Meanwhile, the other Priority 1 Business Functions currently being scheduled and heard by Connecticut courts have been defined as:
- Criminal arraignments of defendants held in lieu of bond and all arraignments involving domestic violence cases;
- Juvenile Detention hearings;
- Family orders of relief from abuse;
- Civil orders of relief from abuse;
- Civil protection orders;
- Orders of temporary custody (Juvenile Matters);
- Orders to appear (Juvenile Matters);
- Emergency ex parte order of temporary custody;
- Juvenile detention operations for detainees held for juvenile court;
- Termination of parental rights;
- Domestic violence victim notification; and
- Civil and family capias mittimus execution and bond review.
Connect with me to discuss your legal needs concerning any matter on the Priority 1 list, or any other legal matter.
Cramer & Anderson has a team of highly-experienced attorneys in nearly 20 practice areas, including Family Law, Criminal Law, Business Law, Immigration Law, and Estate Planning. For more information, call the New Milford office at (860) 355-2631 or see the firm’s website.