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The Case of the Two Blonde Mrs. Kings

Paul Fletcher//November 27, 2006

The Case of the Two Blonde Mrs. Kings

Paul Fletcher//November 27, 2006

Sounds like something out of Raymond Chandler.

Or Perry Mason maybe.

What it is is a case from Rockingham County.

A woman named Marsha once was married to a guy named King in Oakland, Md.

At some point they divorced and she moved to Virginia.

Mr. King apparently has consistent taste in women.

Marsha, the old Mrs. King, was blonde and petite.

The new Mrs. King was blonde and petite, and bore a striking resemblance to the old Mrs. King.

Why is this important, legally?

Judge John J. McGrath Jr. has the story in Reese v. Golden Eagle Credit. Corp. (VLW 006-8-216).

Judgment enforcement

At bottom, the Reese case involves an effort by a credit company to docket and enforce a Maryland judgment in Virginia.

The creditor obtained a default judgment against Marsha in Garret County, Maryland, in 1998. It docketed the judgment in Rockingham County a few years later.

When all this came to Marsha’s attention, she sought to have it vacated – she was never served in Mary-land, she said.

At a hearing, the creditor produced the writ of summons served at the husband’s address in Oakland. The process server wrote that he “served a summons by delivery to Marsha King on 2-2-98 and left with her a copy of the complaint and all supporting papers.”

Under Maryland law, which McGrath construed here, a debtor has the burden of showing by clear and convincing evidence that he or she was not properly summoned.

Back to the process server. In Maryland, it is apparently a common practice for the server to write a description of the person served on the document, according to Guion Willis Jr., counsel for the credit company. The paper described her as blonde and petite.

Marsha produced evidence that at the time service was made, her ex and his new wife were living there. She was long gone. “In addition,” McGrath wrote, “the Petitioner introduced evidence showing that the ex-husband’s new wife bore a striking resemblance to the Petitioner, herself. Both women were petite and blonde with similar facial features.”

Elkton lawyer Derrick Whetzel, counsel for Marsha, said that when he looked at the pictures it was indeed unusual. “They had the same coloring and build [and were about the same] age.”

The creditor had nothing to refute her claim she never got the summons, so the judge said she had carried her burden. The judge set aside the docketing of the foreign judgment and stayed its enforcement here, pending the outcome of any effort in Maryland to vacate it.

Whetzel said he has advised Marsha that she could attack the judgment in Maryland, but he doesn’t know if she’ll go to the trouble and expense. The debt was originally about $8,000, and with interest and fees tacked on, is worth between $12-14,000, the two lawyers said.

Harrisonburg lawyer Melissa Michaelson handled the case at the hearing, Willis noted.

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