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Name search in the on-line court records!

If you suspect that a creditor may be planning to  sue you, do not wait for “proper service”.   Unfortunately you may not know what is “proper service” of a lawsuit.  Also a disreputable process server may lie about having given you court papers, when in truth you never received them.   Always give your creditors an updated address or they may serve a “John Doe” at your old apartment address, claiming he is your room mate.  And guess what, that guy is just going to throw your court papers away.

I think if  you are worried about being sued, it is much better to go on line periodically  and check the local court house web site to search for your own name under parties to a civil lawsuit.

Otherwise, you might be shocked to discover that a case is proceeding to judgment that you  did not even know about.  If so, you need to act quickly.  The law does not protect those people that sleep on their rights.

Here is an example how to find you local court web site.  If you live in Orange County you would google “Orange County Superior Court”.  When the court web site appears, then look for “on-line services” or “civil”. (You might want to check out your traffic tickets while you are there.)   Look for a  the link to “civil case”  “party name”.   Once you found any case with your name on it, you want to click on it and try and print the docket— which is a list of papers that have been filed in that particular case.  Search the docket especially for “proof of service” or “request to enter default”  which is a big clue that someone is claiming to have served you and is proceeding to judgment without your knowledge.

As soon as you discover a case you do not know about it is  best run immediately to the clerk’s office of the court house and get copies of everything and call a lawyer.  Timing is everything.  Do not wait!  Setting aside defaults can be difficult, if not impossible if you wait too long.

Many counties are starting to charge a nominal amount  for name searches and in others (like Orange Co) it is free. Copies of  some case files ( like some unlimited jurisdiction lawsuits filed in the Central District in Los Angeles Superior Court) can be purchased on-line without a trip to the court house.

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