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Johns v. Erhart

April 8, 1997

HAROLD R. JOHNS AND DORIS JOHNS, HUSBAND AND WIFE, APPELLANTS,
v.
MARLYCE I. ERHART, LAURA R. HARBERT AND VENTURES UNLIMITED, A GENERAL PARTNERSHIP, RESPONDENTS.



Appeal from Superior Court of Spokane County. Docket No: 95-2-02220-5. Date filed: 09/28/95. Judge signing: Hon. Richard J. Schroeder.

Authored by Dennis J. Sweeney. Concurring: Philip J. Thompson, Stephen M. Brown.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweeney

SWEENEY, C.J. To extend the time within which a party may execute on a judgment, the judgment must first have been rendered by "a court of record of this state." RCW 6.17.020(1). That party must also apply for the extension to the "court that rendered the judgment . . . ." RCW 6.17.020(3). Harold R. and Doris Johns took a default judgment against Marlyce Erhart, Laura Harbert, and Ventures Unlimited in United States Bankruptcy Court in 1985. In 1995, they filed the judgment in Spokane County Superior Court. Pursuant to RCW 6.17.020, they moved for an order extending the time for execution of their judgment. The trial court refused to grant the extension. It concluded that the execution time limit could not be extended pursuant to RCW 6.17.020 because the judgment was not rendered by a court of record of this state and application was not made to the court rendering the judgment.

The question here is whether execution of the bankruptcy court judgment, properly filed in superior court as a foreign judgment, qualifies for an extension under RCW 6.17.020. We hold it does not and affirm the trial court.

Discussion

The Johnses make two primary arguments. First, they argue that pursuant to RCW 6.36.025(1) foreign judgments filed in superior court are to be enforced in the "same manner as a judgment of the superior court . . . ." They conclude their bankruptcy court judgment may, therefore, be extended in the same manner as a judgment rendered in the state of Washington. Next, they argue that if the holder of a foreign judgment may not extend the time to execute on a judgment, then RCW 6.17.020 violates the full faith and credit clause of Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution.

Filing of Foreign Judgment - Extension of Time to Execute. RCW 6.36.025(1) provides:

A copy of any foreign judgment authenticated in accordance with the act of congress or the statutes of this state may be filed in the office of the clerk of any superior court of any county of this state. The clerk shall treat the foreign judgment in the same manner as a judgment of the superior court of this state. A judgment so filed has the same effect . . . as a judgment of the superior court of this state and may be enforced . . . in like manner.

(Emphasis added.)

The time for enforcement of a judgment may be extended for 10 years if the provisions of RCW 6.17.020 are met. That statute provides in part:

(1) Except as provided in subsections (2), (3), and (4) of this section, the party in whose favor a judgment of a court of record of this state or a district court of this state has been or may be rendered, or the assignee, may have an execution issued for the collection or enforcement of the judgment at any time within ten years from entry of the judgment.

(3) After June 9, 1994, a party in whose favor a judgment has been rendered pursuant to subsection (1) or (4) of this section may, within ninety days before the expiration of the original ten-year period, apply to the court that rendered the judgment for an order granting an additional ten years during which an execution may be issued.

(Emphasis added.)

Statutory construction is a question of law reviewed de novo. City of Pasco v. Public Employment Relations Comm'n, 119 Wash. 2d 504, 507, 833 P.2d 381 (1992). When the statute is plain and unambiguous, we derive its meaning from the wording. Soundgarden v. Eikenberry, 123 Wash. 2d 750, 756, 871 P.2d 1050 (1994). We give effect to the Legislature's intent reflected ...


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