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RULE 69. EXECUTION ON JUDGMENTS

July 25, 2011

RULE 69.01: SCOPE.

This rule applies to executions and garnishments on legal and equitable interests in personalty, including intangibles, and realty to satisfy judgments in all courts inTennessee. A Circuit Court judgment will reach equitable interests without a Chancery Court action to enforce the judgment.

RULE 69.02: SEQUENCE.

Execution against personalty need not precede execution against realty.

RULE 69.03: DISCOVERY.

Discovery in aid of execution may be taken pursuant to Rules 26-37, excluding Rule 35.

RULE 69.04: EXTENSION OF TIME.

Within ten years from entry of a judgment, the judgment creditor whose judgment remains unsatisfied may move the court for an order requiring the judgment debtor to show cause why the judgment should not be extended for an additional ten years. A copy of the order shall be mailed by the judgment creditor to the last known address of the judgment debtor. If sufficient cause is not shown within thirty days of mailing, another order shall be entered extending the judgment for an additional ten years. The same procedure can be repeated within any additional ten-year period until the judgment is satisfied.

RULE 69.05: GARNISHMENT.

(1) Garnishee’s Duty Generally.  A writ of garnishment served on a garnishee holding property of the judgment debtor requires the garnishee to answer the writ and make an accounting to the court. Property includes a judgment debtor’s realty, personalty, money, wages, corporate stock, choses in action (whether due or not), and court judgments.

(2) Service of Writ of Garnishment.  The sheriff shall serve the garnishee with three copies of the writ of garnishment and one copy of the notice to judgment debtor.

(3) Garnishee’s Duty Upon Service.  The garnishee by the next business day after service shall ascertain whether the garnishee holds property of the debtor. If so, the garnishee shall mail one copy of the writ of garnishment with the notice to the last known address of the judgment debtor. Where the garnishee is a financial institution, the balance in the judgment debtor’s accounts on the night of the service date is the amount subject to that garnishment writ.

Within ten days of service, the garnishee shall file a written answer with the court accounting for any property of the judgment debtor held by the garnishee.

Within thirty days of service, the garnishee shall file with the court any money or wages (minus statutory exemptions) otherwise payable to the judgment debtor. If the garnishee holds property other than money or wages, a judgment may be entered for that property and a writ of execution may issue against the garnishee.

(4) Failure of Garnishee to Respond.  If the garnishee fails to timely answer or pay money into court, a conditional judgment may be entered against the garnishee and an order served requiring the garnishee to show cause why the judgment should not be made final. If the garnishee does not show sufficient cause within ten days of service of the order, the conditional judgment shall be made final and a writ of execution may issue against the garnishee for the entire judgment owed to the judgment creditor, plus costs.

RULE 69.06: EXECUTION ON PERSONALTY.

(1) Levy.  A levy is effective when the sheriff with a writ of execution exercises control over the judgment debtor’s personalty.

(2) Lien of Levy.  A lien of levy in the judgment creditor’s favor is effective when the sheriff levies on the judgment debtor’s personalty. The first judgment creditor to deliver a writ of execution to the sheriff, as shown by record in the clerk’s office, has priority over other judgment creditors as to the property levied upon. A lien of levy remains effective until the property is sold or otherwise released from the sheriff’s control.

(3) Sale.  The sheriff shall sell personalty by auction. At least ten days before the sale a notice generally describing the personalty and stating the time, place, and terms shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation at the judgment creditor’s expense, taxable as court costs. If the personalty is perishable no notice of sale is required.

Proceeds of the sale shall be applied first to the sheriff’s statutory fees and reasonable expenses, then to court costs, then to the judgment creditor, and then any remaining balance to the judgment debtor.

RULE 69.07: EXECUTION ON REALTY.

(1) Lien Lis Pendens.  A lien lis pendens applies only to realty that is the subject matter of a lawsuit and described in the complaint. To affect the rights of bona fide purchasers and encumbrancers, an abstract must be registered in the register’s office of the county where the realty is located. The abstract must identify the court and contain names of parties to the action and a description of the realty and its ownership.

(2) Judgment Lien.  A judgment lien against the judgment debtor’s realty is created by registering a certified copy of the judgment in the register’s office of the county where the realty is located. Once a judgment lien is created by registration, it will last for the time remaining in a ten-year period from the date of final judgment entry in the court clerk’s office and for any extension granted by the court pursuant to Rule 69.04. For the extension of the lien to be enforceable, the judgment creditor must register the court’s order extending the judgment.

(3) Levy.  As long as a judgment lien is effective, no levy is necessary; the judgment creditor may move for an order of sale. Otherwise a levy occurs when the sheriff exercises control over the judgment debtor’s realty. The first judgment creditor to deliver a writ of execution to the sheriff, as shown by record in the clerk’s office, has priority over other judgment creditors as to the realty levied upon.

(4) Sale.  The sheriff shall sell the debtor’s interest in realty by auction. At least thirty days before the sale a notice generally describing the realty (including a street address if available) and stating the time, place, and terms shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation at the judgment creditor’s expense, taxable as court costs. Publication shall be repeated two times, with each of the three publications being separated by at least one week. At least twenty days before the sale, the judgment creditor shall mail a copy of the published notice to the judgment debtor and to all persons having an interest of record in the realty.

Proceeds of the sale shall be applied first to the sheriff’s statutory fees and reasonable expenses, then to court costs, then to the judgment creditor, and then any remaining balance to the judgment debtor.

Bona fide purchasers for value at the sale shall take free of any defects concerning notice. The sale extinguishes all junior or subordinate liens.

(5) Termination Statement.–Upon satisfaction of the judgment, the judgment debtor may demand that the judgment creditor record in the register’s office a termination statement to supersede any lien lis pendens or judgment lien of record. If the judgment creditor fails to register a termination statement within ten days after demand, the judgment creditor shall be liable to the judgment debtor for $100 and for any loss caused to the judgment debtor by failure to register. [Amended by order filed December 10, 2003; effective July 1, 2004 and by order filed december 29, 2005, effective July 1, 2006.]

Advisory Commission Comments [2004]. Rule 69 is rewritten in its entirety. The intent is to consolidate procedures established by statute, court precedent, and custom into a single orderly rule. New Rule 69 does not radically change current law.

Advisory Commission Comment [2006]. The only change in Rule 69.07(2) is to drop the final word in the original paragraph, “lien.” The court’s order granted pursuant to Rule 69.04 extends the judgment, not the judgment lien. The lien is extended by registering that order.

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