Tag Archive | dj

District Justice vs. Court of Common Pleas

I get asked quite often about the difference between the District Justice and the Court of Common Pleas.  The differences are many.  The most important difference is that the District Justice is an elected official.  Anyone can be a District Justice, that is, anyone who can win the election.  In most instances, District Justices ARE NOT attorneys.  There are a few who are attorneys, but I would estimate that less than 10% are attorneys.  The District Justice claim is capped at $12,000.  If your claim is over $12,000 then you must proceed to the Court of Common Pleas.  Claims at $12,000 or below may be filed in either court.  The proceedings in front of a magistrate are usually very informal.  Rules of evidence are followed, but to a lesser degree in many instances.

The Court of Common Pleas is divided into two divisions —  Arbitration and regular court.  Arbitration is mandatory for all claims that are $$25,000 or less (this number varies from County to County, but $25,000 is the norm).  At arbitration, your case is heard by three attorneys picked at random from the community who act as judge and jury.  In regular court, a Common Pleas Judge will be assigned to your case.

Posted in Other

What happens in a debt collection lawsuit?

The lawsuit is filed, either at the District Justice or the Court of Common Pleas. If the lawsuit is filed at the local DJ, the collection agency is hoping that you do not attend the hearing, because they will then automatically win. After they obtain the judgment, they will transfer it to the Court of Common Pleas and begin execution proceedings. It is in your best interests to notify the District Justice that you are going to defend yourself immediately upon receiving the notice of the lawsuit from them. You should have an attorney represent you at that hearing, and you should not attend.  In magistrate cases, the collection agency almost never has the proper documentation to beat you in court.  They actually need you to attend so that they can question you and use your testimony against you. Have an attorney go in your place and the results should be in your favor.

If the lawsuit is filed in the Court of Common Pleas, you will receive a visit from your county Sheriff’s Department. A Deputy Sheriff will serve the paperwork on you at your home. Upon receipt of the lawsuit, you will have twenty (20) days to file a written response to the lawsuit that is called either an Answer or Preliminary Objections.

If you fail to file the written response in the allotted time, you will have a judgment entered against you without the benefit of having a hearing. As you can see, it is of the utmost importance to respond to the lawsuit immediately, to preserve your rights to defend yourself in a court of law. That is the key to beating a collection agency, i.e. to defend yourself in court, preferably with the right attorney. There are a number of issues that the collections agency must prove to obtain a judgment against you, and they typically cannot do so, again, as long as you properly defend yourself. You must force them to produce all of the documentary evidence in their claim against you, and then poke legal holes in their case.  A knowledgeable consumer attorney can file the proper responses to the lawsuit and you very likely will never end up in a courtroom.

Contact our office at 412-823-8003 or toll free at 1-888-536-6644 for a free telephone consultation if you have any questions regarding collection agency lawsuits in Pennsylvania.

Posted in Lawsuits, Other


Credit Card Lawsuits

If you are faced with a credit card lawsuit, whether its an original creditor or a junk debt buyer, contact my office at 412-823-8003 right away. We offer a free, no obligation review of any credit card based lawsuit that is filed in PA.

FDCPA Attorneys

Many Debt Collectors threaten people, that's a fact. Threats of wage garnishment, jail, fraud charges and contacting employers, friends and relatives happens every day to people just like you. The truth is that most of these threats are illegal. If a debt collector is threatening you, contact our office at 412-823-8003 for a free initial consultation.