In Jefferson County, a bill of discovery entails post-judgment questioning of a debtor, under oath, at the Master Commissioner’s office. It is used to determine information such as the nature and location of a debtor’s assets. It is a valuable tool for collection efforts in that counsel and/or a judgment creditor can question the debtor regarding bank accounts, ownership of property, personal assets, etc.
Bills of discovery are governed by Jefferson County Local Rule 510. To initiate the proceeding, an attorney and/or judgment creditor must file a Notice with the Circuit Court, and include the debtor on the certificate of service. There is no set format for the Notice. An example of one Notice (per the Master Commissioner’s Office) reads:
“You are herby notified to appear on Friday ______________, 2016 at 10:00 a.m., before the Jefferson County Master Commissioner, located at 239 S. Fifth Street, Suite 1450, Kentucky Home Life Building, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, to give testimony under oath for purposes of discovery and examination.”
The bills of discovery are conducted every Friday at 10:00 a.m. at the Master Commissioner’s office. There are no local rules regarding how far in advance notice must be served prior to the date of the bill of discovery. Most are filed at least two weeks in advance, (to give the debtor sufficient time to make arrangements to attend).
After filing the Notice, a copy of it, along with a fee of $7.50, must be sent to the Master Commissioner’s office. There are no time limits, or maximum number of questions that one may ask during the bill of discovery.
One thing to keep in mind is that, per JRP 510, “No party shall be subject to additional discovery proceedings for six (6) months after her appearance and examination unless an affidavit is filed by counsel showing a change in circumstances warranting this.” Thus, one should make sure that he/she gets all the necessary information in the first bill of discovery.
If the debtor fails to appear, counsel and/or the judgment creditor may subpoena the debtor for an appearance before the Commissioner. If the debtor then fails to appear once subpoenaed, an order of arrest may be sought by counsel.