For anyone with an adverse, prior Minnesota State Court judgment against them, the process of removing that judgment record from a credit report just got a whole lot less expensive.
Under Minnesota Statute Section 548.181, anyone who was sued in the past and wanted to petition for removal of the judgment record only has to pay the Court clerk $5 per judgment for the service. Because the mere record of a prior judgment can dramatically hurt someone's credit score and ability to obtain a loan -- particularly a home mortgage loan -- being able to remove the judgment record is important. While judgment records cannot be removed until paid or otherwise discharged, after they are satisfied or discharged they can be. But you have to take action to do it yourself. Otherwise, the written record of the judgment could still stick around as a blot on your credit.
Long ago, the Minnesota legislature recognized the importance of this by enacting the $5 fee for each removal. The problem is that a few years back, County Court Administrators across the State decided on their own to interpret the law to allow them to not only charge $5 for the judgment removal, but a full Court filing fee as well -- the same fee that was charged to anyone wanting to file papers to start a lawsuit. These fees vary by County but are often $300 or more. What this meant is that if you had a few judgments against you that you took care of and simply wanted to clean up your credit history, it could cost you well over $300 per judgment to do so. And mortgage lenders often required this step before allowing any home lending, even to refinance.
The Courts were essentially grabbing cash from folks who as a group are not particularly wealthy and who were simply trying to clean up their credit history by using a Court service that takes all of three minutes. That cash grab ends August 1, 2015. As part of the recent Omnibus public safety finance and policy bill signed into law by Governor Dayton, the statutes are being clarified to state that Court Administrators cannot charge more than $5 per judgment removal.
Some of my colleagues worked very hard to get this bill passed into law. The $5 fee is fair and its return is a welcome sight.
Image credit: Teresa Boardman