Judgments by Confession and Judgments by Warrant of Attorney

Confession of Judgment

A confession of judgment means the entry of a judgment on the confession (admission) of the defendant, usually a debtor. The defendant admits his or her liability for the debt. A confession of judgment must be in writing, and it cannot be withdrawn. Judgments by confession are void as against public policy in some states, while other states permit judgments by confession. The courts have held confessions of judgment to be valid if the debtor has made a voluntary waiver of his or her due process rights. A confession of judgment prevents the defendant from raising any defenses to the debt and cuts off any right to appeal the judgment. The court has discretion to deny a request to enter a judgment by confession.

Warrant of Attorney

A warrant of attorney is a written document that gives an attorney the power to confess judgment against the defendant on a debt. A warrant of attorney cannot be withdrawn. Due process requires proof that the defendant's consent to the warrant of attorney is voluntary.

Cognovit Note

A cognovit note is a special type of promissory note (an unconditional written promise to pay a specific sum of money at a future date). A cognovit note contains a clause giving an attorney, agent, or representative the power to confess judgment on the note if the debtor fails to pay the note. Under a cognovit note, the creditor can obtain a judgment without having to disprove any defense that the debtor might claim. A debtor who executes a cognovit clause waives the right to notice and a hearing on the note.

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