This means that the discovery period in your case has expired and the judge wants to see the parties for them to announce whether the case is ready for trial and when trial should be scheduled. You do not want to miss this or the judge can default you. Your husband can get out of jury duty if he has to appear in court for something else.
A certified letter is not the proper means of discovery, which is why you did not receive a response. Serving Interrogatories, Requests for Admissions and/or a Request to Produce upon the opposing side is the proper way to ask them to produce proof of this debt. I realize the you don't know the law, which is why there are attorneys, but I don't know if the judge will extend the discovery period so that you can go back and do this. You can make an oral motion to "enlarge time for discovery" when you go see the judge, which means you are requesting extra time. You will show proof that you tried to ask for the discovery in good faith. The best case scenario is that the judge sides with you because you are a non-attorney and believes that you have made sufficient attempts to get the proof from opposing counsel. Please just let me know if you have any more questions. If not, please don't forget to click on the green accept button in the answer box so that I can receive credit for helping you. It is the only way I can receive compensation for my time and it will charge you nothing further to press accept. Thanks so much.
There are Rules of Civil Procedure in the law that everyone--attorneys and non-attorneys have to follow. In order to request the proof of this debt, you needed to go through the discovery process, which includes "serving" the things I mentioned above on opposing counsel. This is done by preparing these legal documents in a specific way, filing them with the court and sending copies to opposing counsel. Now, because you are not an attorney, the court may or may not find that your "letter" was a sufficient way of asking for the proof of this debt. Generally, a certified letter would not be considered a proper part of the discovery process. But the court has broad jurisdiction and may say that it was allowable as a way to request the proof in this case. Otherwise, you are going to have to ask for more time for discovery and serve your requests the proper way.
Sorry, just one more question.... If we settle, do they usually ask for the lump sum?
You will be able to settle for less if you can pay a lump sum; however, they could very well accept a payment program for a higher amount. Generally, offering 50% in a lump sum is considered the normal amount to start off with. If payments are made, it may be more like 75%. Whatever you do, if you do not have a signed agreement before the court date for a settlement, make sure you SHOW UP in court--no matter what opposing counsel says. I have had the other side straight up tell people there was no need for them to show up to a hearing just so they could go and get a default against them.
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