Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Tennessee

Q: Is it legal in a civil case for a judge to rule against you if you are physically unable to be at set court date?

My grandma left me part of her estate when she passed away. She Appointed one of my cousins as Trustee of her estate. I went to jail for a period of 4 months. While in there I was served with papers accusing me of damages to the house that I did not do and a court date was set. I was physically unable to go to that court date because the jail did not take me, so on the court date the judge ruled in my cousins favor because I wasn’t there. Is it legal for my cousin to have won the judgement against me even though I was physically unable to be at the court date? Both my cousin and his lawyer knew where I was so it wasn’t like I chose not to be there.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Anthony M. Avery
Anthony M. Avery
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: You might file a Rule 60 Motion now within 1 year of the Judgment. You need to be very convincing of your legal disabilities at the time. But even if you are in jail, you need to file papers (including handwritten in pencil) with the Court. Default Judgments are often set aside. You should have contacted an attorney from jail prior to Court.

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