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State v. Buckingham

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

November 4, 2013

STATE OF MARYLAND, CENTRAL COLLECTION UNIT
v.
RUSSELL BUCKINGHAM, ET AL.

Krauser, C.J., Woodward, Nazarian, JJ.

OPINION

Krauser, C.J.

Maryland Rule 2-625 provides that "a money judgment expires 12 years from the date of entry or most recent renewal." In this appeal, we are asked to decide whether that rule applies to a money judgment held by the State of Maryland.

The State obtained the judgment at issue, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, against Russell Buckingham, Jr., a State lottery agent, after he failed to remit to the State the proceeds from the sale of lottery tickets. More than twelve years after that judgment was entered, the State obtained writs to garnish Buckingham's wages, which were thereafter served on his employer. In response, Buckingham filed a motion, requesting that the State's judgment be declared "null and void" and that the writs in question be quashed. When, citing Rule 2-625, the Baltimore County circuit court granted that motion, the State noted this appeal.

Rule 2-625 implements the twelve-year limitations period found in section 5-102 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article.[1] Because, in our view, that limitations period is not applicable to a judgment held by the State, we hold that the circuit court erred in both finding that the State's judgment against Buckingham had "expired" and in, subsequently, quashing the State's writs of garnishment.

Background

On March 27, 1998, a judgment in the form of a "notice of lien"[2] was entered, in the Baltimore County circuit court, in favor of the State of Maryland and against Russell Frost Buckingham, Jr., in the amount of $7, 078.64, plus interest, reflecting proceeds from the sale of lottery tickets, which Buckingham had failed to remit to the State, together with "court costs, " a "service charge, " and "penalties." More than twelve years later, on September 13, 2010, that judgment was then "indexed"[3] in favor of the Central Collection Unit of the Maryland Department of Budget and Management[4] on behalf of the State Lottery Agency ("State"), although it had never been renewed. At that time, the State also obtained a writ garnishing Buckingham's wages that was subsequently served on his employer, RFB Trucking, Inc.[5] The writ was in the amount of $14, 574.30, manifesting the proceeds from the unremitted sale of lottery tickets, plus interest, court costs, and attorney fees. A year later, the State obtained a second writ of garnishment of wages, which, because of the accrual of additional interest since the first writ, was in the amount of $15, 219.23.

Following the second writ of garnishment, Buckingham moved to have the court declare the March 27, 1998, judgment against him "null and void" and to quash the previous two writs of garnishment on the grounds that the judgment, having not been renewed, had expired on March 27, 2010, twelve years after it had been entered. Following a hearing, the circuit court granted Buckingham's motion, declaring that, pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-625, the judgment had "expired" and quashing the writs of garnishment. After its motion for reconsideration was denied, the State noted this appeal.

Discussion

The State claims that, because it is not subject to the limitations period created by Section 5-102 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article and purportedly implemented by Rule 2-625, the circuit court erred in concluding that Rule 2-625 barred the State from enforcing its March 27, 1998, judgment against Buckingham. Buckingham disagrees, insisting that the State must renew a judgment it holds, as any other judgment holder must do under Rule 2-625, or the judgment will expire after twelve years. And that is what, Buckingham claims, occurred here. Unfortunately for Buckingham, we agree with the State, that is, that Rule 2-625 implements the limitations period found in Section 5-102 and that, therefore, the State was not required to renew its judgment within twelve years of having obtained it, a conclusion which compels us to reverse the judgment below.

Section 5-102 provides that an action on a judgment must be filed within twelve years from the date that the cause of action accrues. But it specifically exempts, from that limitations period, actions on a judgment held by the State. Specifically, the section states, in part:

(a) Twelve-year limitation.—An action on one of the following specialties shall be filed within 12 years after the cause of action accrues, or within 12 years from the date of the death of the last to die of the principal debtor or creditor, whichever is sooner:
(1) Promissory note or other instrument ...

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