Being sued by Midland Funding – or any junk debt buyer for that matter – can be a scary experience. The big stack of documents dropped off by the process server look official and you may be thinking to yourself that there is no way you can win your case. Before you throw in the towel, let me walk you through one of the major keys to winning your case against Midland Funding.
The hearsay rule.
If you are like most, you have watched your fair share of courtroom dramas on T.V. And because of this you have likely seen an attorney jump out of his seat at trial and loudly proclaim, “objection, your Honor, hearsay!” But what exactly is hearsay? Understanding this rule may very well be the difference between winning or losing your case against Midland Funding.
In court proceedings here in Arizona (and every other state) there are rules that govern court proceedings called the Arizona Rules of Evidence. These rules are in place to make sure that only the best evidence is submitted to a judge or a jury. The idea is that if the evidence that is submitted in court is trustworthy that there is a better chance that the final decision or judgment will be the correct one.
The Arizona Rules of Evidence define the Hearsay Rule as any statement, either written or oral, that is given while the person is out of court. For instance, if I were in an automobile accident case and I were testifying in court, and was asked the question, “what did the person standing on the sidewalk say?” The answer to that question is hearsay. The thinking is that the best evidence would be to have the person who actually made the statement come into court and answer the question rather than having it come into the court second hand.
In Arizona, hearsay evidence is not admissible – meaning that the judge or jury should not be able to make their decision based upon that evidence.
Why it is Important in Your Midland Funding Case
The reason why understanding the Hearsay Rule is important in your Midland Funding case is because Midland Funding cases are full of hearsay. Remember, hearsay evidence cannot be the basis of a decision or judgment. So if all the evidence is hearsay, then really Midland Funding doesn’t have much at all in the form of actual evidence.
Midland Funding will provide several documents in your case. Usually they will provide a Bill of Sale (sometimes more than one) from the original creditor(s), an Affidavit from an employee of Midland Credit Management, and several statements from the original creditor. This all looks very official and very intimidating. Until you remember the Hearsay Rule.
Again, the Hearsay Rule applies to both oral and written statements that are given while the person is not in court. So if Midland Funding wishes to introduce the information that is contained within the various documents they have provided you, then Midland Funding will need to bring in a witness to testify as to what that information is.
For example, let’s say that Midland Funding is suing on a debt that they allegedly purchased from Chase Bank. Midland Funding cannot simply bring in a bunch of Chase Bank credit card statements and expect the court to make a ruling based upon the information in those credit card statements. That information is hearsay.
What Midland must do is bring in a witness from Chase Bank to testify as to what information they want the judge or jury to hear about. At a minimum Midland Funding must bring in a “Custodian of Records” from Chase Bank to be able to have those Chase Bank credit card statements introduced. Midland cannot simply bring in their own employee and have them testify about documents related to Chase Bank.
And that makes sense because what real knowledge would a Midland Funding employee really have about documents created by a completely different company (Chase Bank). The answer is that the Midland Funding employee would have no knowledge – and that would make this “evidence” untrustworthy.
So, if Midland Funding doesn’t have trustworthy, non-hearsay evidence, what do they really have? Nothing. And if they don’t have any evidence they can’t win their case.
In my next blog post I will explain an exception to the Hearsay Rule that Midland Funding often attempts to use to get around the bar on hearsay evidence.