You already have a court judgment. But do you also need a “Transcript of Judgment”?

If a New Mexico state or federal court has entered a court judgment (for money) in your favor, congratulations to you. You’ve probably already invested a lot of time and energy in obtaining that judgment.

Unfortunately, judgments for money “don’t enforce themselves.” Additional steps may be needed to get the other side (the “judgment debtor”) to pay you.

One of these steps may be to obtain and record a document called a “transcript of judgment.” This procedure is described in Section 39-1-6 of the New Mexico Statutes, which states in part (with my emphasis added):

Any money judgment rendered in the supreme court, court of appeals, district court or metropolitan court shall be docketed by the clerk of the court and a transcript or abstract of judgment may be issued by the clerk upon request of the parties. The judgment shall be a lien on the real estate of the judgment debtor from the date of the filing of the transcript of the judgment in the office of the county clerk of the county in which the real estate is situate.

Suppose, for example, that Plaintiff obtains a money judgment for $10,000 plus post-judgment interest. After the judgment is entered by the court, the Plaintiff may request that the court Clerk’s office issue a one-page document called a “Transcript of Judgment” that looks roughly like this made-up example:

This document, once issued by a court Clerk’s office (adding a stamp and certification not shown here), is an official record of the amount of the judgment awarded in favor of the Plaintiff and against the Defendant.

[The court Clerk’s office typically won’t prepare this document for you. Instead, you would need to create the document and submit it to the Clerk’s office for review and issuance. If the Clerk’s office compares the draft Transcript of Judgment to the court-case records and finds a discrepancy, the submission will likely be rejected and sent back for correction.]

But the document by itself doesn’t have any legal effect. Instead, the document (typically a court-certified copy of the Transcript of Judgment) must be recorded in the records of the County Clerk of one or more counties where the Defendant is (or may be) a record owner of real property. Once that step is completed, the Plaintiff has a “judgment lien” on the Defendant’s real property in that county or counties.

Having a judgment lien isn’t a guarantee of judgment payment. For one thing, the Defendant may not own any real property at all. Or the Defendant’s real property may already be encumbered by one or more mortgage liens, tax liens, or other liens. But obtaining and recording a Transcript of Judgment is often part of the “toolkit” for enforcing a money judgment in New Mexico.