Small Claims Court 8: I obtain a Restraining Notice to freeze bank accounts

After my last Small Claims Court episode, I carefully read through all the instructions on both sides of my Notice of Judgment.

Side two was written for me, the Judgment Creditor (I like sticking these references in caps). It told me exactly what I could and needed to do to collect the debt:

  • I could contact the New York City Marshal and provide her with all the information regarding my case — names, index numbers, addresses, location of judgment debtor’s real property.
  • I was also entitled to …… THE ISSUANCE BY THE CLERK OF A RESTRAINING NOTICE. PROPER SERVICE OF THE RESTRAINING NOTICE WILL PROHIBIT THE RECEIVING PARTY FROM TRANSFERRING ANY ASSETS OR INTEREST BELONGING TO THE JUDGMENT DEBTOR UNTIL THE SHERIFF OR MARSHAL EXECUTES (COLLECTS) ON THE JUDGMENT.

That instruction is not in caps on my Notice of Judgment. But as I said, I like doing caps for exciting stuff. And so:

I went back to the Small Claims Court Clerk and asked her for a protective order. “A what?” she said. “Oh,” I said and corrected myself: “I mean a restraining order.”

Since my sole creditor was now the coop, a corporation, I brought with me all the documents I thought I’d need for the Restraining Order, namely the bank account statements for the coop. But the only thing the clerk needed was the name of the bank. I gave it to her.

In return, and quite quickly, she handed me an official printed and filled out court document, with an official, deeply indented seal, called RESTRAINING NOTICE (yes, in caps). It had the title of the case, the judgment debtor information (the address of the coop) and a statement to the bank (“the person to be restrained”) of what is owed me. It goes on to instruct the bank that:

If you owe a debt to the judgment debtor, or are in possession or custody of property in which the judgment debtor has an interest, be advised that…you are hereby forbidden to make or permit any sale, assignment or transfer of, of any interference with, any such property, or pay over or otherwise dispose of any such debt except as provided for in that Section. This notice also covers all property which may in the future come into your possession or custody…

Then, in huge caps all bolded it says:

DISOBEDIENCE OF THIS RESTRAINING NOTICE IS PUNISHMENT AS A CONTEMPT OF COURT.

So the coop bank accounts, both of them, are now frozen. The managing agent who controls them can’t pay any bills or transfer any money out. Without paying me first.

I made copies of the Restraining Notice (it comes with a package involving exemptions — individual debtors can file for an exemption from the notice if their income is derived from Social Security and the like), called the bank to find out the address of its legal department, and served both the bank and the coop by certified mail. Although the bank is not a “natural person” in the meaning of this order, I did send along the exemption package, just because it was there.

Then I signed the Affidavit of Service that had been attached to the Restraining Order — in front of a notary public at my lawyer’s office (thank you again, JF).

Having already re-written my letter to the City Marshal incorporating all this new information, I attached to it a copy of the Restraining Order and took my whole little pile down to the Marshal’s office at 111 John Street and dropped it off.

She in turn mailed me a form called Affidavit in Support of a Request for Execution Against Income/Property, with a post-it asking me to sign it in front of a notary and get it back to her. So once again I traveled downtown to my lawyer’s office, once again asked to have my signature notarized (molto grazie, JF) , once again made copies and took this stuff to the Marshal’s office.

And so, for now, it is done. Let’s see what happens next. Something will.

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