Your Right to a Jury – Should you Demand One

Jury Trial

I know I’ve discussed whether you should seek a jury trial before, but I want to give it a new look for this set of videos. In my view, debt defendants should always ask for jury trials if they have the right to them, and most of them do have that right.

Your Right under the Constitution

Under constitutional law, you have a right to jury trial under the 7th amendment for most “legal” claims. “Legal” in this sense is a term of art referring to the historical development of the English courts. Suffice it to say that most claims “sounding in” breach of contract are “legal” claims. Account stated, on the other hand, is not, so if the credit card company is suing you ONLY for account stated, you probably don’t have a right to jury trial, but for almost all other credit card or loan based claims you do. And if the plaintiff is suing you for breach of contract and account stated, you will have a right to jury trial that will, in all likelihood, control the whole case.

So most of the people watching this video or reading this article will have a right to jury trial. Should you take it?

I think yes for a couple of reasons.

Judges and Lawyers Take Jury Trials More Seriously

The primary reason is that judges and the other side will take jury trials more seriously. This means that the judge will be much more careful about what kinds of evidence to allow the jury to see, and since that is the heart of much of our defense, this is a very good thing. It isn’t that a judge should allow hearsay to affect his or her decision, it’s that the judge will pay much closer attention to your argument that something IS hearsay if he or she is worried about a jury hearing it. It’s just a more serious kind of case.

And the second reason is that it IS a more serious kind of case. Although a judge-held trial could last half an hour, a jury trial will be measured in hours or possibly days if there are any complications. That’s because the jury has to be selected, as much as anything, and that takes time. The difference in cost of attorney time could easily be a thousand dollars, and debt collectors don’t like to put that kind of money into cases like this. It’s just the way they do business, not that they fear them or anything.

Jury Trials are NOT Scary

But should you fear them?

It might sound like a jury trial is a bigger deal for a shy or intimidated person, and it is true that they are somewhat more complicated, and you’re playing to people in the jury rather than just the judge. But although that’s true, you will probably find, in real life, that it doesn’t matter. Juries are just as easy to talk to as judges, and if you’re caught up in your case it’s probably even easier to talk to the jury. They’re much more like you than the judge is.

There are factors you’ll need to consider as you prepare for the case, but in making your decision on whether or not to demand a jury that’s probably all you need to know. The judge will be more serious, the defendant will like the case less, and the jury will be easier to talk to than the judge. In general. So we suggest you ask for a jury trial. Find out your court’s rules on asking for one before you file your answer if that is possible.

Do I Respond, How do I Respond, What do I Respond

DO I Respond, HOW do I Respond, and WHAT do I Respond?

We talk elsewhere about what constitutes valid service of a lawsuit, and you should check out that video and article if you have any questions about whether you’ve been served.

We also discuss elsewhere whether you should respond to a debt collection lawsuit you find out about if you have not been served the complaint. To boil that down to its most essential point, if you have not been served at all – you hear about the suit from a neighbor or look your name up in court files, or a lawyer sends you a letter saying you’re being sued – we suggest that you take no action if you don’t have a lawyer. If you do have a lawyer, and the lawyer thinks it’s best to get on with it, that might be a good idea, but as a pro se defendant you won’t be able to shut the case down the way a lawyer might.

Let them serve you if they can, but you have no obligation to help with that process. You don’t have to go down to the sheriff’s office or call the firm suing you or its process server. See if they can get you, and if they can’t the case will be dismissed against you. It actually happens a lot, although not a statistically huge percentage of cases.

If you go this route, you will want to keep an eye on the court files to see if, whether or not they HAVE served you, they claim to have served you, and that brings up a special issue that we discuss elsewhere, too.

If you get served, your next question will be HOW to respond. If you fail to respond at all, the other side will get a default judgment and start trying to get your stuff, so this is probably not a good idea for you. You’ll need to Answer or file a motion. To answer this question, you should first consider what kind of court you’re in. Are you in a small claims court, sometimes called a “magistrate” court? Or are you in a “real” court.

If you’re in a small claims or magistrate court, see our video and article on that.

Assuming you’re in a real court, you’ll need to do two things right off the bat. First, find your state’s Rules of Civil Procedure and look up the part about service of process and motions to dismiss. Some motions to dismiss have to be filed before you answer the petition. Find out if you have one of those – the petition is vague, names the wrong person, or violates certain procedural requirements some states have for debt collectors. If you have one of the motions that has to be filed before answering, you might be waiving your right to bring the motion if you answer first.

One of those motions is to whether you were legally served. If they claim you were served, but you have some reason to dispute that, you probably need to bring what’s called a “motion to quash” service before you answer, since answering will be regarded as your consent to the court’s jurisdiction.

If none of those concerns apply to you, you will need to answer the suit. In some states, they have what’s called a “verified petition,” which means that someone swore to the truth of the allegations. If you have that sort of petition, you will need to swear to your answer, and this means getting a notary public to witness the document. But this is rare. In most instances, the petition is an ordinary one signed by the lawyer for the debt collector. If that’s what you’ve got, you will simply want to deny almost all of the paragraphs, one by one, in the petition. Don’t go to absurd lengths and deny your name or address, if those are correct, but you should generally deny all of the other substantive allegations. The legal effect of your denial is to say, “prove it.”

In some states you can file what’s called a “general denial,” which does in one sentence what I just suggested.

If you think you have a counterclaim against the person suing you, you will want to add that to your answer.

We discuss “affirmative defenses” elsewhere, but in general they are facts that, even if what the debt collector says in its petition is true, would mean you don’t owe them money. Most typical of these sorts of defenses are some sort of agreement to settle or address the claim, or the passage of too much time before they brought the suit, called the statute of limitations.

The essence of an affirmative defense is that you bear the burden of proof in showing that these factors exist.

Finally, let’s talk about demanding a jury. Our position is, generally, that debt defendants should ask for a jury. We discuss this in greater length in our article and video on juries, but if you think you want a jury (as we recommend), you need to find out how your court and state require that you demand one. In federal court and some states, it’s enough to say it as part of your answer. In some states, you have to make a separate request by separate pleading. Find out what you are required to do and do that.

If by chance you’re just finding out about this after already starting to defend your case, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily too late. If you have a right to jury trial, the right is absolute when you raise it in the proper way and time, but even if you don’t do it when you should, the court should normally grant your request anyway absent some sort of misbehavior or the passage of too much time, and they are required to be “liberal” in their interpretation of what’s too late. That is, they are supposed to lean towards granting your request for a jury, so even if you’re late, you should go for it if you want one.

What is “Valid” Service of Process

What is “Valid” Service of Process

This question comes up a lot, and I have probably addressed it before. But for this set of videos I want to give a shorter, sweeter answer. Bear in mind that service of process is the way a court asserts jurisdiction over you – “process” is not the lawsuit, it’s the summons, the sheet of paper from the court, and “service” is the way it’s given to you. If it isn’t done correctly, the court lacks power to control your fate. As you’ll see, the rule isn’t some sort of absolute constitutional requirement – it is constitutionally required, but it can vary under circumstances of practicality. We’ll discuss some of those here.

If you’re in small claims court, there may be special rules regarding service of process. There often are. For example, service by certified mail, or even just first class mail, may be sufficient. If you receive a summons by mail, you should look up the court’s rules on service. Sometimes, even if service by mail is good, there may need to be some proof that you actually received it. Check your rules and see if what you got was good enough. Obviously you don’t want to call them, identify yourself, and ask if receiving service by mail was good enough, since that would be admitting you got it.

If you’re being sued in something other than small claims court, it’s probably going to take more than just the mail. They’re probably going to have to hand you the suit or offer to do so.

Here again, the rule is not absolute. If they offer you the summons, and you refuse it or run away, you will have been served. It isn’t necessary for you to take it for service to have happened, just for it to be offered.

But what if they tack it on your door? Or put it between the screen door and your front door? That’s normally not going to be enough, since there’s no certainty you will be the one getting it, but if that happens, you’ll want to research the question before deciding it wasn’t good enough. Incidentally, if we’re talking about a foreclosure or rent eviction, tacking the suit to the door might be enough to get jurisdiction over the property even if not over you, personally. That would mean that they could evict you if you don’t answer, but not hold you liable if there’s anything else owed.

What about if they give the summons to a neighbor? Probably not enough (check your state’s rules) and possibly a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, too.

How about giving it to you child at the door? This, too, is going to be determined by state rule. Most states have rules that allow service upon residents at a place who are a certain age or above. So ordinarily that would not give a visitor a right to accept service on you, or a child under a certain age.

If you haven’t been served adequately, you may wish to oppose the court’s jurisdiction over you. I actually usually suggest you hire a lawyer to do that for you, since it’s just a more powerful statement and can be done without being tremendously expensive. You would file what’s called a “motion to quash service,” to have it deemed ineffective by the court.

What if they can’t find you or reach you at home? There are other ways you can be served, but usually the plaintiff has to ask for permission to do that. They could serve you “by publication,” which means posting notice in some legal publication. Since no one ever reads those publications, you won’t see that, but if you’re aware they’re trying to reach you, you should follow the case docket and see if they ask for permission to serve you that way. If so and the court gives them permission to do so,  you’re probably going to want to go ahead and waive service and ask them to mail you the summons and complaint. But it’s quite rare for debt collectors to take all the trouble to serve by publication for a very good reason: if they can’t find you to serve you, they’re not likely to be able to find your assets to collect on them. Everybody in the debt collection business likes to get paid, and if they don’t think they will be, they usually won’t put in the effort.

As you can see, I generally think the debt collectors should have to put in the effort to serve you. If they can’t, there isn’t much reason for you to make that easier for them. They might drop the suit on you completely. That’s a winner.

How to Talk to Lawyers and Judges When you’re Sued for Debt

I’ve discussed some of the background realities of talking with judges and the attorney for the other side when you’re representing yourself as a defendant in a suit for debt in “Real Words about Talking to Judges and Lawyers.” There, I mentioned that you face systemic discrimination as a pro se defendant because neither judges nor the lawyers will respect you. The judges don’t primarily for classist reasons, but the lawyers for the other side have various reasons. There’s a bias against you, and that means certain things we’re going to talk about.

It means, above all, that you have to be better than the lawyer for the other side to receive appropriate respect. There are reasons this is possible, but it’s primarily because of the business model of the debt collectors. They take a factory approach, and that means that your case will simply get very little individual treatment from the company – it just isn’t profitable for them to do that. Nor is it profitable for them to hire lawyers from the Ivy Leagues, let’s just say. Their whole approach is to bug you into paying without suing you and then to file huge numbers of suits knowing most people won’t defend themselves at all and will allow a default judgment.

Defending yourself takes you way out of the “ordinary.”

And it’s a start, but you also still have to put in enough work to be better than the other side, and that’s what we discuss here.

Because of the general lack of respect for pro se defendants, when you say something, you will be more likely to need to cite controlling authority than a lawyer would. They can make references to “black letter law” (which is just legalese for “generally obvious”), but you will do better, if the issue is important at all, by citing a case that supports it. That means research is going to be important to you.

One thing non-lawyers seem to have trouble with is keeping things “relevant.” If you’re arguing about whether the debt collector has proof they own the debt, some things will shine a light on the issue, but the fact that the company has been sued by the federal government for collection abuses will not be, for example. Because of the way the court sees you, it will have very little tolerance for any straying off topic – it (the judge) will think you’re wasting time and often tune out. Therefore, make sure everything you say relates to exactly the issue you’re discussing.

A related issue is keeping things brief. Again, the court will quickly sense that you’re wasting time if you veer away from the most important things at all. The judge doesn’t need to know why you thought something or planned something, it needs to know what the law requires. Pro se defendants seem to have a tremendous difficulty with this – you want to tell your story, but let me tell you that the court could not give one damn about your story. Legal talk is very different in this respect than regular human talk. Do NOT waste the court’s time.

Don’t whine. This is probably self-explanatory, but it’s part of the other things I’ve mentioned. Because the court does not care about your feelings, it will regard anything you say or insinuate about your feelings as a waste of time. And whining is irritating and unprofessional.

Know when to hold and when to fold. This is part of maintaining self-discipline and paying attention to the judge. When the judge says they’ve ruled, you are on extremely borrowed time. Ordinarily you should shut up and sit down. As I point out in “Real Talk,” you do that by saying, “Thank you, your honor.” But sometimes you don’t think you’ve had a chance to raise a crucial point. In that situation, you say something like, “I hear that, your honor, but I wanted to make sure you knew that they caught the defendant red-handed holding the knife with blood all over him…”

What I’m saying here is that if you want to say something after the judge has already ruled, it had better be damn good, and even then you’re on thin ice, but sometimes you have to say something to preserve the record. Judges can be hasty, and specially so with pro se debt defendants, so sometimes you may feel you have to point something out, but make sure it’s good – otherwise you’re just going to make the judge mad.

And speaking of anger, you must ALWAYS keep your feelings in check when you’re talking to the judge. If you raise your voice you could get thrown in jail for contempt of court, but of course it’s much more likely that the judge will just stop listening to you for the rest of the case. Baseball coaches seem to think it helps sometimes to get kicked out of a game, but this is never going to be a good strategy for you. Shut up, collect your thoughts, and be ready for the next thing.

And now just a few words about the lawyers. First, keeping your cool is just as important with them as it is with judges. They can’t throw you in jail, but they can certainly tune you out in lots of ways. It won’t be good for you if they do.

Because you’ll be negotiating in various ways with the other lawyer, you need to remember one thing: talk is cheap. Because they don’t have a lot of respect for you, if you tell them “we should settle this thing now, or I’m going to file a motion for summary judgment next week…” they’re just going to ignore that. They don’t think you’ll do it. Any similar threats are pointless and more harmful than good. Instead, do the work first and let your actions speak for you.

Incidentally, a lot of lawyers try the same trick with the same results (nothing), but whereas I could probably draft a motion for summary judgment and send it to the other side saying that if they don’t settle I’m going to file the motion, you probably couldn’t even do that. There’s a chance they’d read it if a lawyer wrote it, but they probably won’t read anything you send until you file it. So go ahead and file what you’re going to file. Let your actions do your talking.

Talking to Judges and the Other Side When Sued for Debt

Real Words about Talking to Judges and the Other Side
When Sued for Debt

If you are being sued for debt and representing yourself – that’s called “pro se” – you’re going to have to talk to judges and also to the lawyer for the other side. That presents special challenges for pro se defendants, and particularly pro se debt defendants.

The first thing you must remember is that any FACTUAL thing you say can be taken as an “admission.” That means, if the fact you made the factual statement is established, the fact itself will be regarded as proven. That can be huge in debt cases where debt buyers often cannot prove things with legitimate evidence. If you say “I know I owe…” or “I know I did…” or “You told me…” or anything else that leads to
a factual statement, that fact will be regarded as proven. Not BY you, incidentally, but AGAINST you. So don’t try to get cute and say, for example, “I know you can’t prove your case.” The rule only applies to what are called “admissions against interest” and it’s a one-way street: you can’t make admissions for the other side. Is that clear?

When you’re talking to judges, they may simply ask you, for example, whether you used or had a credit card or something along those lines. You may be disputing, primarily, whether the debt collector has a right to collect from you, which could be a completely different issue, but if you admit you got the credit card you will lose the case 99% of the time. You must resist the temptation to answer such a question with an admission. You can say, instead, “that’s one of the things the other side has to prove, and I’m not admitting it.”

You are not a witness under oath when you’re talking to the judge in open court unless you are, in fact, testifying, and you should not feel required to make admissions. If the judge presses you very hard, simply say you don’t think so.

If the lawyer for the other side asks you point blank for some similar admission while you’re negotiating or haggling over discovery or at any other time than while you are under oath, you should simply say you “deny” it. That’s what you’re doing by your denial of the allegation in your answer.

Now let’s go to some “unwritten” facts, you might say. And they’re frankly not going to be pleasant to hear, but you need to know them. Both judges and the other side – lawyers and their minions – regard you as socially inferior. You may feel it and feel intimidated, or you may not even feel it, but most of the time it is a simple fact. They do not respect you in a fundamental way.

With judges that can never be remedied. They can respect your intelligence and your willingness to compete, shall we say, but they are in a position of power over you that is virtually absolute, and they’ve been in that position or some similar position for a long, long time. This gives you kind of a delicate task which we’ll come back to in a minute, but first we’ll talk about the lawyers and the other side generally.

Lawyers don’t respect you, either, and neither, most especially, do their owners the debt buyers. Again, you cannot fix that, but you must treat them, as much as you possibly can, as your equals. They’re not your parents and will never, under any circumstances, do anything in your interests that doesn’t help their interests, so do not ask them for guidance in any way. Ask me. Or ask a trusted friend. And then do your research. But when you’re talking to the lawyer you should be aware of the power dynamic and resist it. Not saying be rude or overbearing; I’m saying to keep your cool and treat the lawyer the way you’d treat anyone else you’re in a professional relationship with. Because that’s what you are.

Believe me, though, they start with contempt for you, and that will never change unless you fight and win. Professionally, again, I emphasize. You fight and win by standing up for your legitimate rights, keeping your cool, not making admissions, and forcing their hand where possible. Eventually, if you do these things, they’re likely to develop a sort of grudging admiration for you – fighters like fighters, in a way. They respect that about each other. But they’re never going to invite you to the boathouse, if you know what I mean. Know that fact.

Now let’s get back to judges, because your relationship to them is much more complicated.

Your job, as an advocate, is to instruct the judge on what the law requires, as you understand it. If the other side is suing you for a debt they cannot prove they own, you have to tell the judge that that failure to prove ownership requires they lose the case. When you object at trial or in motions, for another example, you have to tell the judge why legal precedent in your state requires that your objection be sustained.

Lawyers do this all the time, although even lawyers handle judges they don’t know extremely well, with kid gloves. And your job is much much harder because the judges regard you as socially inferior. You still have to tell the judge what the law requires, and you can’t mince your words about that. But never, ever, interrupt a judge, raise your voice, or lose your cool, and don’t forget that judges can make mistakes (and so can you, of course), so work with that. It doesn’t mean they’re against you – it doesn’t usually mean much of anything. It’s usually impersonal, and even if it isn’t you have to act like it is.

Remember that judges are in a god-like position over you, and a lot of them seem to think they are god, too. If they tell you to shut up or it’s over, they’ve ruled on a question, they expect you to thank them! They do, and it’s standard. The judge says, “I’ve overruled your objection,” and you say, in response, “Thank you your honor.”

It could seem disgusting, but it’s tradition as much as anything else, and you are respecting their position when you say that more than their person.

So you have a challenging balancing act with judges. You have to tell them what the law requires and what makes you think so – and they actually may not know or remember. But you must keep in mind that their power is nearly absolute, so you should usually treat your arguments as “reminders” to them of what you expect they already know. And yet you are their intellectual equals, too, so you should stand up for the right of your position even if the judge is questioning it.

With all that said, a lot of judges are intelligent, nice people. ALL of them are, at least some of the time to some people. Recognize that fact and understand that they play a role in this case, and that role is to make judgments, some of which you aren’t going to like. Don’t personalize their rulings, and don’t think that because they disagree with you on some point that they’re against you. Unless you’re a competitive athlete or a lawyer, this is probably way out of your experience, but referees in football are required to look at every play and make their best judgment regardless of who they like better. They try to do that, and so do judges, most of the time. Understand that fact – it’s just their job.

When you’re talking to the other side, but especially when you’re talking to a judge, remember to listen carefully. So often people just listen to what others are saying primarily as a way of marking time – you have something to say, and you’re just waiting for them to finish so you can say it. Don’t do this in the law. Listen to what they’re saying – it’s usually important.

And make sure the things you say are important, too. Stay on point and remember that anything you say that seems to go off-point will cost you respect and attention. No one wants to hear your feelings or difficulties. They want to hear what the law is and what it requires. If you’re representing yourself, you’re going to have strong feelings, but keep them in check and keep them quiet. Talk about the few things that matter to whatever you’re discussing.

Remember that above all, the case that means so much to you means very little to the other side or to the judge. It’s just a job to them, which they may take more or less seriously, but for you it is much more important. Act like the case is important to you and work steadily and hard, and stay humble. Hope the judge will take his or her responsibilities seriously enough to be fair and listen to you when it matters, and that the lawyer on the other side is as uninspired as most of them are. Keep those things in mind and you’ll have a great chance to win.

What to Expect as a Poor Person in a Rich Man’s Game

Real Words about the Law and Being Sued for Debt

What to Expect as a Poor Person in a Rich Man’s Game

You may have heard that “justice is blind,” which oddly enough was meant to suggest that justice is fair in America – it’s blind to class and race, and all the rest, supposedly. But if you’re being sued for debt you’ve probably heard of another saying: “it’s a big club, but you aren’t in it.”

I’m afraid that second saying is probably more relevant to what you can expect in the courts. If you’re going it pro se, that is to say representing yourself, you’re going to have some trouble getting the
attention of most judges. They’re not going to value what you say as much as they’d value what a lawyer would say, especially a lawyer for a corporation. Most judges are on that side of the fence, and they’re DEFINITELY from that side of the tracks, if you know what I mean.

So let’s just say there’s an institutional bias  – prejudice – against you. But I am saying “most” judges, after all, and some don’t share that bias.

And as a general rule judges do have a sense of fair play as far as playing by the rules, although again this is just a “general rule.” If they care about the outcome of a case, I’d say they can be pretty results driven, never minding the rules, but in fact most of them do NOT care about the outcome of debt cases. On the whole they seem not to like them, and we’ve all heard that debt collectors are notoriously heartless and… dirty. The judges are aware of all this, and I think they do regard them, on the whole, as the vultures of the legal kingdom. Judges often come from the more high profile sort of law.

But these are generalizations, and you should observe for yourself what your judge is like.

And here’s yet another general rule of the courts: the judges regard cases involving less than a couple
of million dollars as being sort of trifling and not worth their time. That’s a thing you should never forget. It’s a question of who they blame for your case wasting their time. I think they start with the sense that YOU are to blame, if you bother defending yourself, but this can change, and we want it to change. You didn’t bring the suit, after all, but you are one of the few meaningfully opposing the debt collectors, and so the judges might blame you for that. It has often seemed that way to me, anyway.

This is all hardly a ringing endorsement of the process, I know, but probably nothing new to you, either.
So why do I still think you have an excellent chance of winning if you fight these cases? Because the debt collectors really don’t usually have what they need to prove the things they need under the rules, and courts do have respect for rules. They’ll forgive corporate counsel a few transgressions, but in the final analysis they want the rules to be followed, and the case can be reversed on appeal if they don’t. So you have your chance.

And judges are people. The more time you spend with them, providing you keep your goals in mind, the more the judges will like you, the more they’ll listen to what you have to say. And you will have the law on your side. That does matter. It usually makes all the difference if you know what you’re doing.

And that’s why we’re here – to make sure you do know what you’re doing. Just be aware that whatever
they say about cutting a break for non-lawyers in the justice system – and they do in certain unimportant ways – you’re probably going to be held to a higher standard than the lawyer representing the debt collector rather than a lower one. You’re going to have to know more and do a better job than the other side.

You can do that, it just takes work and a certain humility. The lawyers on the other side are not the greatest legal minds. The debt collection business draws business people, and the business they’re in
means they won’t spend a lot of time on your case. They won’t have a lot of the stuff they need or the
time to get it. Your job is to show that to the judge in a way he or she will listen to. It’s a challenge, but it can usually be done. We’ll be helping you.

The lawyers for the other side have a job to do, and that’s to beat you. Some of them will treat you with respect, and others with contempt (which will be controlled), but remember their job, and however they present themselves to you it will be part of their overall plan to beat you. Don’t expect to go out with them for drinks after it’s all over.


Our 20-20 Membership

Our 20-20 Membership

People often ask me what they should get first from Your Legal Leg Up. To me, the answer is obvious, and it’s both the first and last thing you’ll pay for in most cases: the 20-20 membership. It’s the best we offer both in value and price. It’s so much better than the other options, in fact, that I almost feel guilty when people buy anything else, but sometimes they do, and there could be reasons one of the other memberships would be right for you, so I’ll talk briefly about your other options at the end of this article.


All of our memberships include access to our teleconferences, and I’m not aware of any other program that offers anything like that.

What teleconferences are is an opportunity to ask questions in real time. You can ask about what things mean, what the bad guys might be driving at or trying to accomplish with something they’re doing, and how you might respond. We’ll help direct you to sources of information or guide your research. Sometimes you might just want to know where you are in your case, what a word means, or how to say or search for something… stuff like that.

Sometimes you’ll just need some encouragement and a reminder to keep up the good work because
working steadily is important but difficult in legal work, where there are deadlines that can be months away, but you forget how much time things take even aside from doing the work itself.

And sometimes you’ll want to hear other people who in the same boat as you are. Debt defense pro se can be a lonely process, but there are a lot of people trying to defend themselves. You can talk to them, and we offer encouragement and coaching as well as more substantive help too. People who use it find it enormously helpful. We can’t offer legal advice – you’d have to pay between $150 – 250 per hour to get that – but consider it a very active form of coaching and help.

Teleconferences currently happen three times per week and members can come to any and all of them. They’re scheduled for an hour each, but often go above that amount of time because I want everyone with a question to get it answered. If need be, we’ll increase the number of teleconferences per week to make it easier to get those questions answered.

Fees and Prices – Why the 20-20 Membership is Best

Most of our memberships involve a registration fee and a monthly payment, but the 20-20 only requires one payment for a full year that will be less than the other memberships for a year. The other memberships offer discounts on our digital products, but with the 20-20 you get all the digital products for free.

In other words, for one price you get all of our digital products and access to all the materials on the website for a year in addition to the teleconferences. The digital products which are designed to make the whole process easier and more effective, and the many articles and videos should help you get a deeper understanding of specific topics as well. You don’t get any “bonuses” because you get everything with the membership.

Materials You’ll Get – You Get ALL Digital Products we Offer

Maybe that’s all you need to know, but if you like to see it all before you make a decision, I’ll say you get all the digital products on our comprehensive product page.  This includes numerous reports, including among others, Got Debt, Assignment Contracts, and Three Weaknesses Almost All Debt Collectors Have, the Manuals for Debt Litigation, Debt Negotiation, and Credit Repair, and all the Motions Packets, including the Motion to Vacate Default, Motion to Dismiss, Motion to Compel, and Motion for Summary Judgment. There will be others, too. You will also get our Model Discovery Pack and, if you live in either California or Pennsylvania, products relevant to those areas.

And you’ll get access to all the hundreds of articles on our site. Many are free to the general public, but many others are restricted by level of membership. As a 20-20 member you get them all. Go here to sign up for the membership now, be sure to click on the 20-20 membership option.

Why Such a Good Deal?

I know this is going to sound like sales talk, but the 20-20 is a much better offer than we’ve ever made, and some explanation might help it make sense. There are two reasons, one selfish, and one not so selfish, for making this offer.

The selfish reason is that I’ve noticed that when people get sued they regard the law suit as a major priority and will pay what they have to (if they can) to give themselves a chance to win. That makes a lot of sense to me. But if they sign up for a monthly membership, there often comes a time when the case is less scary, or there comes a time when they need to buy a product but don’t have the money. So they cut corners and skip a product. That lowers their chance of winning, which isn’t good for Your Legal Leg Up’s reputation. It’s very important that you all win if at all possible, so making a deal which will never make you cut corners makes good business sense to me. And it’s why I’m here in the first place.

The other reason is just that I can do it. The products are here (and the work has been done, though they are sometimes revised), and I want you to be able to do your best work and get your best results without always having to sweat gallons. You’ll have plenty to do, but we can make things a lot easier. So I want to do that and am fine with making a little less than I might in to do it.

The Other Memberships

I mentioned the other types of membership a little bit above. Those are the Gold, Platinum and Diamond memberships. The main advantage with them is that if you show up and the debt collector gives up just because you do, you’ll save money because you won’t be paying for things you don’t us. Don’t laugh, that can happen. And it does happen maybe 1 percent of the time. They’re looking for an easy, automatic victory, and just by answering you make them decide to go away. Like I said, that happens about 1% of the time as far as I can tell. To be frank, nobody that’s happened to felt bad about getting the 20-20, but it’s a fact that a monthly membership would have cost less in that situation. Just about any other situation, though, and the 20-20 will save you a bunch of money and a ton of time and worry.

It’s the way to go for almost everybody. Go here to sign up for the membership now, be sure to click on the 20-20 membership option.

Motion to Compel Cycle

The “Motion to Compel Cycle”

– What to do when the Company Suing You Won’t Answer Discovery

If you’re being sued for debt and following our system, you will serve “discovery” on the other side. That is, you will send them questions to answer called “interrogatories,” requests for documents, and requests that they admit certain things.

We do this because debt buyers usually don’t have the proof they need to establish their case, and even original creditors often don’t. We need to know exactly what they do have so we can prepare to show that it isn’t legitimate evidence. That will be important in resisting any motions they file, in filing our own motions, and preparing for and winning at trial.

You will send discovery, and no matter what you send, you will receive nothing but objections in response. This is called “stone-walling,” and it’s in every debt collector’s playbook. Do NOT just send another set of questions – it doesn’t matter what you ask, they will always object, so that would be useless. They might be stonewalling because they know they don’t have legitimate evidence, but frankly I think it’s mostly just a strategy to convince you to give up – to make you think you don’t have a chance against their lawyers and their money.

Don’t give up. Make them give you your answers.

To do that, you’re going to have to do the things that allow you to file a motion to compel, and then you will, obviously, have to file the motion, too. This whole process is what I call the Motion to Compel Cycle. So what is that?

Look at your rules of civil procedure for the rule on motions to compel. READ THAT RULE!

You will notice, in every jurisdiction I’ve ever seen, that the rule requires you to negotiate “informally” in good faith to resolve the issues raised by the other side’s objections. That is going to require you to call them up on the phone, speak to the lawyer on the other side, and discuss the objections. You will do this in good faith, but they certainly will not. And when you get through with this conversation, you will send them first a confirming letter if they’ve agreed to anything, and secondly what’s called a “good faith letter,” which outlines the items remaining in contention and states your basis for demanding the evidence.

So it goes like this:

Send discovery and wait for response

Call them to discuss objections

Write good faith letter outlining disputes and giving them a certain time to provide the information you demand

Wait for that time to expire

Write and file motion to compel.

It is possible they will respond with an argument. You should reply to that argument, but remember never to make any admissions of owing them or anyone money, of any prior relationship to the creditor, etc. NO ADMISSIONS AT ALL EVER. This is critical because they may slip a question in asking “don’t you owe __ the money?” or “don’t you already have the records? It was your credit card account!”

The only issue you should discuss is whether and why they owe you the discovery. Don’t forget.

This whole process is tedious and annoying because you know they are not in good faith. However, remember this: your efforts are requiring more attorney time spent on your case than many other cases combined would require. You are drawing blood with every minute you make them spend. And it’s the only way you will get what you need.

Remember in your first phone call to ask about EVERY SINGLE OBJECTION. I know there are dozens. Go through each one. It’s your right and responsibility, and it costs them $250/hour to talk with you.

Write a “confirming letter” if they make any concessions at all. Say “you said you would give me __ by [date]” and mention everything they agreed to. If they said they didn’t have anything responsive to a question or request, confirm that in the same way, too. You must create a written record.

You won’t get much, so you have to take the next step, the good faith letter where you say why you’re entitled to the information you request. If you’re using our model discovery, you’ll know what to say here.

They won’t give you anything even after this, in all probability, so your next step is the motion to compel. In that, you will include a statement about the phone calls you attempted, and you’ll attach your good faith letter. The court won’t hear your motion otherwise.

We have materials that could help you with all of the motion to compel cycle, from phone call to hearing.



What if they are Suing me and my Business

What if they are Suing me and my Business

Who is Suing Me for an old Debt?

Who is Suing Me for that old Debt?

One important thing to know is whether you’re being sued by a debt buyer, a debt collector, or an original creditor. Knowing this will help you focus your strategy.

First, some definitions.

An “original creditor” is someone who claims you borrowed money from them. It could be a loan or a credit card or anything else creating debt, but the point is that they claim THEY are the ones who originally were involved in the transaction.  For example, you’re being sued by American Express, and they say you signed up for and used an American Express credit card and didn’t pay them. “But I never signed up for an American Express credit card!” – That’s good, but it doesn’t matter for the purposes of this definition.  Whether or not you owe the money doesn’t matter for this. If you’re being sued by someone who claims you borrowed from them, it’s an original creditor case.

A “debt buyer” is someone who bought the debt from the original creditor. This person may also be a debt collector, but the point here is they’re claiming you owed money to someone else and the debt was assigned to them. As you probably know by now, selling old debt is big business in America and throughout the world. Look for the word “assigned.” If a debt buyer is NOT a debt collector, your rights to countersue will be limited (because the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act won’t apply to them), but they will still have most of the weaknesses in establishing their case that we usually talk about.

A “debt collector” is someone who either is acting on behalf of a debt owner (rare, these days) or a debt buyer whose primary business is the collecting of debts (i.e., they buy debts and sue people without providing any real service to the people they’re suing). These people will have weaknesses in their case AND may give you a chance to countersue.

So Who Is Suing Me?

To determine this on a preliminary basis, look at the name of the case. It will be “X Company vs. You” Normally, this means that X Company is the plaintiff. Their lawyer is NOT suing you for most purposes, and the lawyer is not, by virtue of being the lawyer on the case, a party to the action. Companies can only act through lawyers (in court), and the lawyers are generally only “mouthpieces” for them. So most of the time you can forget about them as you consider your rights.

I did say “on a preliminary basis.” What I mean is that you start with the basic assumption that the person named as plaintiff IS the plaintiff, but it turns out this isn’t always true. Sometimes debt collectors (including lawyers) buy debts and bring the lawsuit in the former owner’s name. I think this violates the FDCPA, but for now you just need to know it CAN happen and does happen sometimes, and you need to know if it’s happening in your case. The only way to find out is by conducting discovery, and our model discovery therefore includes some questions about whether the debt has ever been transferred, and to whom.