When a defendant does not answer a complaint, the typical procedure is to move for a default judgment. You should be aware that pursuant to Federal law, the court must determine whether the defendant is a member of the armed forces before entering default judgment. Pursuant to The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), the court will require the party moving for the default judgment to submit an affidavit stating:
- whether or not the defendant is in military service and showing necessary facts to support the affidavit; or
- that the plaintiff is unable to determine whether or not the defendant is in military service.
In order to comply with this requirement, you should check the defendant’s status through an official request. If you know the defendant’s social security number or date of birth you can make an official request regarding military status online at https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/scra/single_record.xhtml. There is no charge for this. Note, you will likely get a message from your browser stating that there is a problem with the website’s security certificate. This is simply because most web browsers do not come with Department of Defense security certificates installed. You can install the security certificate by following the instructions at this link https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/scra/faq.xhtml#Q1.
If you do not have the Defendant’s SSN or DOB, you may send written requests with the information you do have, to the following addresses:
Army World Wide Locator Service
Enlisted Records and Evaluation Center
8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-5031
Bureau of Naval Personnel
5720 Integrity Drive
Millington, TN 38055-3120
Air Force Personnel Center
550 C Street West, Suite 50
Randolph Air Force Base, TX 78150-4752
Commandant of The Marine Corps
Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps (MMSB10)
2008 Elliott Road, Suite 201
Quantico, VA 22134-5030
The charge for each SCRA certificate is $5.20. Checks should be made payable to “Treasurer of the United States”. Alternatively, you can pay a third party to handle the process for you. For example,http://www.servicememberscivilreliefact.com/?gclid=CNXF0YTx2rkCFevm7Aodv2cAGQ is a commonly used resource.
Under the SCRA, if the Defendant is in the military, a court may not enter a default judgment without appointing an attorney for him or her. The SCRA applies to every United States territory and state and to all civil and administrative proceedings in federal, state or municipal venues. The SCRA does not apply to criminal proceedings. The complete text of the SCRA can be found at:http://www.justice.gov/crt/spec_topics/military/scratext.pdf