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Confession of Judgment

debtor plaintiff cognovit note

A procedure whereby a defendant did not enter a plea, the usual response to a plaintiff's declaration in COMMON-LAW PLEADING, but instead either confessed to the accuracy of the plaintiff's claim or withdrew a plea already entered.

The result of a confession of judgment was that judgment was entered for the plaintiff on the confession alone without further proceedings being required.

A confession of judgment could also be accomplished if the plaintiff offered a cognovit actionem, a written confession made out earlier by the defendant. A creditor could demand that a borrower sign a cognovit note when the debtor first became indebted to the creditor. The cognovit note said in writing that the debtor owed a particular sum and voluntarily submitted himself or herself to the authority of the court. If the debtor later fell into arrears, the creditor could obtain a judgment against the debtor without even bothering to notify the debtor of the proceedings. A warrant of attorney served the same purpose as a cognovit note. The unfairness of the procedure has prompted most states to enact laws making agreements for the confession of judgment void.

[back] Confession and Avoidance

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