How can I find out in what counties a money judgment has become a lien?
I understand that a money judgment rendered in one county in New York can be indexed in other counties, and that by doing so, that judgment becomes a lien on real property owned by the judgment debtor in those other counties as well. My customer’s borrower owns property in several counties and the client has asked whether a judgment rendered in his home county has been filed in several other counties. Short of conducting a judgment and lien search in all the other counties, is there a way of finding out what counties a judgment has been docketed in?
Yes, there is. You should ask the original county clerk for a copy of the original judgment docket, including any filing notes.
When a judgment rendered in one county in New York is filed in another, the clerk in the original county is supposed to receive notice of that other county’s filing. CPLR 5018(a) provides for the original judgment docket to be updated with a notation that it has been filed with a clerk in another county.
“Whenever a county clerk dockets a judgment by transcript under this subdivision, he shall notify the clerk who issued it, who, upon receiving such notification, shall make an entry on the docket of the judgment in his office indicating where the transcript has been filed.” CPLR 5018(a)
However, it should be noted that the mechanical process itself which will result in the original docket being updated with information concerning filing in other counties indicates that it is not a substitute for running a judgment search in that other county because of the delay in the home clerk receiving that filing information. 22 NYCRR 202.47 specifies that judgment transcripts used for filing in additional counties have to be accompanied by a “stub” which the other county clerk then has to return to the original issuing clerk after filing the judgment in the new county. Presumably, returning that physical stub is not instantaneous, and the information on that stub is what needs to be added to the original docket.
So, while the above is not a substitute for a judgment and lien search in a particular county, it can help to eliminate unnecessary searches.
Vincent G. Danzi
October 22, 2021