I thought I knew what was going on with Sen. Kruse’s SB 133 concerning the duration of a judgment. But, I wasn’t entirely sure. The law currently says:
Every judgment and decree of any court of record of the United States, of Indiana, or of any other state shall be considered satisfied after the expiration of twenty (20) years.
Under the proposed legislation it would say:
An action to enforce a judgment or decree of any court of record of the United States, of Indiana, or another state must be commenced not later than twenty (20) years after the entry of the judgment or decree.
That language looks fairly similar and, while you can guess at the significance of the changes, the text itself does not provide a great deal of guidance. But, a fiscal impact statement gets prepared for every bill. And, sometimes, you’ll find a plain-English description of what the legislation is attempting to accompish.
For this bill, the fiscal impact statement (pdf) says:
Case law interprets this 20-year statute of limitations to be a rebuttable presumption. This means that if an order was issued by a court more than 20 years ago, the terms of the judgment are assumed to be satisfied unless an opposing claimant proves that the judgment was not satisfied.
This bill would create an absolute outer limit of 20 years on the validity and enforceability of any kind of court issued judgment or decree. Consequently, as proposed by this bill, if a court issues a judgment requiring an individual to pay money to a state or local agency, and the individual fails to pay the judgment within 20 years, then the actions may no longer be enforced.
So, if in doubt, try checking the fiscal impact statement.