In Alaska, judgment records are generated and maintained by the state's courts and contain a formal declaration of a court's final decision in a legal matter. These records typically include information identifying parties in a civil case and their legal rights and obligations.
The Superior and District Courts of the Alaska Court System handle civil proceedings within the state's judicial district. These courts are tasked with generating and distributing judgment records. Under the state's public records law, judgment records are open for examination and can be requested from the relevant custodians like other Alaska court records.
What is a Judgment?
A judgment is a final court decision given as a result of civil litigation. It typically orders one of the parties to pay a specific amount of money to the other party. According to Rule 54 of the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure, a judgment is not a record of previous proceedings but rather a decree identifying a judgment creditor (the owed party) and judgment debtor (the liable party) in a civil action. As a result, it frequently contains the following information:
- The amount of the judgment
- Interest rates and the date from which interest would be calculated
- The amount in punitive damages
- Attorney costs (if applicable)
The judgment will also explain why the court decided to issue the particular order.
Alaska Judgment Laws
Part IX of the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure outlines Alaska's judgment statutes. These laws govern civil proceedings concerning judgment matters in the state court system. They are put in place to ensure that every action or proceeding is decided relatively, timely, and cost-effectively.
What is Judgment Lien?
A judgment lien is an involuntary lien placed on a judgment debtor's property and assets in Alaska. It guarantees that the court's judgment is enforced if the judgment debtor fails to settle the debt willingly. Usually, a judgment creditor (the successful party in the dispute) files a lien to gain the right to collect their debt from the sale of a debtor's property.
A creditor can attach a judgment lien by filing (recording) the judgment with the county recorder in any county where the debtor owns property presently or in the future. Alaska laws on judgment liens are outlined in Chapters 30 and 35 of the Alaska State Statutes.
What is an Alaska Summary Judgment?
A summary of judgment is a motion that a party in a civil case files when they believe no essential facts are in dispute. It is a final decision made by a judge without a trial based on statements and evidence presented. Its primary purpose is to avoid needless trials from taking place. The procedures used to enter summary judgments in Alaska are established under Rule 56 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
What is A Summary Judgment Motion In Alaska?
A Motion for Summary Judgment asks the court to rule on the case without holding a trial because of the following reasons:
- There are no facts to debate at trial because the parties agree on who should win the case.
- One side cannot prove the facts necessary to win the case.
- The law mandates that one party wins based on these facts.
If the judge agrees that no factual issues exist, the matter will be decided without a trial by determining how the law applies to the facts. Also, suppose the opposing party does not file an opposition to the motion. In that case, the court will resolve the issue without a trial based only on the information presented by the moving party.
Parties interested in filing this motion must fill and complete these forms:
To oppose the motion, the defendant must file the following documents within 18 days after the initial motion was filed, or 15 days from the day the notice of the action was received:
Alaska Judgment Record Search
Because district courts in Alaska are courts of record that issue civil judgments, they create and maintain judgment records. According to the Alaska Public Records Act (APRA) and the Access to Court Records Rule, all court records are public information unless the law states otherwise. The Supreme Court of Alaska also establishes that access to court records is a fundamental right of the people.
Therefore, judgment records can be reviewed for free or copied for a fee by members of the public through mediums provided by the courts. It is important to note that a case number is an essential requirement for judgment record searches. As such, inquirers must provide the case number of the record of interest, or at least, names of parties to the case.
How Do I Look Up a Judgment In Alaska?
Inquirers who want to review judgment court records in Alaska can use the courts' records request form to obtain copies. The individual must complete every section of this form because it may take longer to process the request if any information is missing. The form requires the following information:
- Inquirer's name
- Contact information
- Case name and number, etc.
If part or all of the requested record is confidential, only parties to the lawsuit can receive copies of the files. When making such requests, the party must submit a photo ID along with the request form.
All record requests should be submitted in person or by mail to the clerk of the court where the case was filed. The Alaska judiciary offers a Court Directory that contains the Alaska courts' physical addresses and contact information. Inquirers interested in reviewing court records can use this feature to locate courts across the state. Requestors may also find judgment records using CourtView, a statewide database provided by the court system.
What Happens if You Have a Judgment Against You in Alaska?
A judgment is a judicial decree that is binding on all parties involved. Hence, all parties, specifically the judgment debtor, must obey the court's final order. Otherwise, the debtor's real or personal property can be seized by the judgment creditor to satisfy the judgment.
How Do I Find Out If I Have Any Judgments Against Me Alaska?
Usually, the court notifies all parties in the case of any new developments regarding their lawsuit. As such, a person who has a judgment against them will be notified by mail of the entry of a judgment. Alternatively, individuals can contact the court clerk of the appropriate court for more information if they do not receive any notification.
How Long Does A Judgment Stay On Your Record?
Unpaid judgments in Alaska typically last ten years (unless renewed). However, judgment records remain part of civil court records indefinitely. On the other hand, selected judgments may stay on a person's credit report for at least seven years. Even if the judgment is deleted from the debtor's credit history, the creditor can still seek legal action against the debtor, provided the judgment statute of limitations has not expired. Notwithstanding, the debtor's credit score may suffer due to the debt, making it difficult to obtain credit. In most circumstances, the best method to get a judgment removed from one's credit record is to pay it or have it dismissed.
How To Enforce A Judgment In Alaska
Enforcing a judgment is considered "executing" it in Alaska. When an individual wins a judgment, and the debtor fails to pay, the judgment creditor may enforce the judgment through execution proceedings. The most common execution method is a "Writ of Execution." The procedure for obtaining this writ from the court is as follows:
- The judgment creditor applies for the writ.
- The court issues the writ and assigns it to a process server selected from the creditor's pre-approved list. The judgment creditor pays the court and the process server to have the writ issued and served.
- The process server uses the Writ of Execution to seize some of the debtor's assets. (The creditor must notify the process server of the location of the debtor's property.)
- The debtor is served with various documents informing them that their property has been seized and that they may have the right to restore it. These rights are called exemptions. The papers can be served by the process server or via mail.
The debtor only has a few days to contact the court and request an exemption. If the debtor does, the creditor will have the opportunity to object. If the debtor does not file any exemptions, their property may be auctioned to pay the judgment creditor. These execution techniques may change depending on the circumstances of the case.
How To Collect A Judgment In Alaska
There are two methods for collecting a judgment owed in Alaska:
- The debtor pays voluntarily, or
- The creditor obtains a writ of execution from a judge and executes it on the debtor's property.
However, sometimes the debtor may be eager to pay the judgment but may require some time to do it. In this case, the debtor can sign a contract with the creditor, agreeing to pay the judgment in installments. The courts provide a Stipulation For Installment Payments form (also called Form SC-18), which must be signed by both parties and then approved by the judge. The creditor will not employ execution proceedings to recover the judgment as long as the debtor makes the payments. If the debtor refuses to make the payments, the creditor may pursue further legal action.
What Happens if a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment in Alaska
When a defendant or judgment debtor fails to pay a judgment in Alaska, there are two ways that a creditor can get the money from the party. This includes garnishing the defendant's wages or taking their PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend). The creditor can also seize the defendant's property or clear their bank account.
- Garnishing wages: A creditor may ask the court to order the debtor's employers to garnish the defendant's wages. As such, a portion of the debtor's income will be paid to the creditor directly.
- PFDs: A creditor can also petition the court to have the debtor's permanent fund dividend (PFD) deducted in whole or part.
A judgment creditor can also ask the court to order the debtor to attend a Judgment Debtor Hearing, in which the creditor learns more about the debtor's assets.
A judgment debtor hearing is a legal proceeding where the debtor is questioned under oath about their property and assets, as well as their current location. During the hearing, the judge or clerk will call the debtor to the witness stand, where the creditor has the right to inquire about the following:
- What company the debtor works for and how much money they make
- Any money earned from sources other than their job
- The location and value of any real estate property
- Any personal property which the debtor owns or has a financial interest, as well as the property's location, description, and worth
- Businesses they own
- Bank accounts (the location and amount contained within)
A creditor can request a judgment debtor hearing from the court by submitting a Motion and Order for Judgment Debtor to Appear.
What Personal Property Can Be Seized in a Judgment in Alaska?
In most situations, the following categories of property can be seized in Alaska:
- Financial accounts
- Bonds and stocks
- Real property, such as lands and residences, and other entities constructed on, growing upon, or attached to land
- Business inventory and equipment
According to Chapter 35, Section 30 of the state statutes, judgment creditors can only execute on personal property before real property. Hence, if the available personal property is insufficient to satisfy a judgment, the creditor may execute on real property.
Alaska Judgment Interest Rate
Chapter 30, Section 70 of the Alaska State Statutes establishes the rate of interest on money judgments. This interest rate has varied multiple times over the years. For instance, judgments entered before August 7, 1997, had an interest rate of 10.5 percent. However, interest rates for judgments entered after that time are the specific rates of the year that the judgment is entered. For example, an interest rate of 3.25 percent was determined for 2021.
It is essential to note that, even though the interest rate changes annually in Alaska, the interest rate on a particular judgment does not change once it has been entered. Hence, a judgment entered in 2005 with a 6.25 percent interest rate will remain at that rate until paid, despite the year it is paid.
What is a Default Judgment?
A default occurs when a defendant does not file an answer to a plaintiff's complaint within the appropriate time frame. Thus, if the defendant in a lawsuit filed in Alaska fails to respond to the plaintiff's claim within 20 days of service, the plaintiff can ask the court to award a default judgment. Essentially, this type of judgment closes the case without the defendant's input or version of events, and it may grant the plaintiff what was requested in the complaint.
How to File a Motion To Set Aside Default Judgment in Alaska
A motion to set aside a default judgment can be filed in two ways. The correct approach depends on the timing of the default judgment and whether or not the plaintiff has begun collecting money from the defendant. If the decision was recently entered and the creditor has begun the process of enforcing it, the defendant may file the following documents simultaneously:
- CIV-498 (Motion, Affidavit & Order to Set Aside Default & Accept Late Filed Answer)
- CIV-481 (Answer & Counterclaim to Complaint to Collect a Debt)
These forms ask the court to dismiss the default, reopen the case, and allow the individual to file an answer and counterclaim. The forms must provide the court with a "good cause" for the delay in filing the answer.
Alternatively, if the default judgment was not recently entered and the creditor has begun to execute the judgment, the affected party may file these documents:
File Motion To Vacate Judgment in Alaska
The process of vacating a judgment in Alaska is the same as that of setting aside a default judgment. As such, the steps above apply. Vacating a judgment entails having a court decision or judgment erased.
How To Remove An Abstract Of Judgment In Alaska
In Alaska, an abstract of judgment is a judgment lien on a judgment debtor's present or future real property. It ensures that a debtor pays or fulfills a court judgment to the judgment creditor before engaging in any transaction involving the liened property. The judgment debtor must satisfy the judgment to have the abstract of judgment removed from their property. Alternatively, provided there is a valid reason, the debtor can remove the lien by petitioning the court to nullify the judgment.
How Long Is a Judgment Good For In Alaska
Pursuant to Chapter 30, Section 20 of the Alaska State Statutes, judgment liens are valid for ten years from the date of the judgment's entry. In contrast, judgments themselves remain valid until settled or discharged by death or bankruptcy.
Note that if the judgment holder fails to obtain a writ of execution within five years of the judgment's entry, the judgment becomes null and void. However, suppose the 5-year period passes without obtaining a writ, and the judgment creditor wishes to enforce the judgment. In that case, the entity must file a motion with the court and demonstrate sufficient cause for failing to obtain a writ.
Alaska Judgment Statute of Limitations Law
Civil actions and proceedings in Alaska have statutes of limitations ranging from two to ten years. According to Title 09 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the statute of limitations for filing actions on judgments is ten years.