Failure to Contest Garnishment Exemption Claims
Carrie Crews v. Grace Jackson: When a judgment creditor has failed to contest garnishment exemption claims, a court has no discretion to determine whether to dismiss a garnishment proceeding or to modify a writ of garnishment.
On August 26, 2016, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals decided the matter of Carrie Crews v. Grace Jackson [Ms. 2150422], — So.3d — (Ala.Civ.App. 2016), holding that, pursuant to the compulsory language of Alabama Rule of Civil Procedure 64B, a trial court does not have any discretion to determine whether to dismiss a garnishment proceeding or to modify a writ of garnishment when the judgment creditor has failed to contest a declaration and claim of exemptions. In such instances, where the judgment holder has not timely contested claimed exemptions to a garnishment, the trial court must dismiss the garnishment proceeding or modify the writ of garnishment in order to give effect to the claimed exemptions filed by the debtor.
To allow any discretion, where the rule mandates that “after fifteen (15) calendar days from the filing of such claim, the process of garnishment and any writ of garnishment issued therein shall be dismissed,” would run counter to the language of Alabama Code § 6-10-24, which provides that property claimed as exempt is not subject to levy unless a waiver of exemption as to the kind of property on which the levy is sought to be made or the claim is contested exists. Alabama Rule of Civil Procedure 64B (emphasis added). Moreover, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has previously held that the failure to properly contest a declaration and claim of garnishment exemption requires that the claim of garnishment exemption be considered prima facie correct, and thus upheld. See Young v. Strong, 694 So.2d 27, 28 (Ala. Civ. App. 1997).
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