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ATTACHMENT Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

The act or process of taking, apprehending, or seizing persons or property, by virtue of a writ, summons, or other judicial order, and bringing the same into the custody of the law; used either for the purpose of bringing a person before the court, of acquiring jurisdiction over the property seized, to compel an appearance, to furnish security for debt or costs, or to arrest a fund in the hands of a third person who may become liable to pay it over. Also the writ or other process for the accomplishment of the purposes above enumerated, this being the more common use of the word. Of persons. A writ issued by a court of record, commanding the sheriff to bring before it a person who has been guilty of contempt of court, either in neglect or abuse of its process or of subordinate powers. 3 Bl. Comm. 280 ; 4 Bl. Comm. 283; Burbach v. Light Co., 119 Wis. 384, 96 N. W. 829. Of property. A species of mesne process, by which a writ is issued at the institution or during the progress of an action, commanding the sheriff to seize the property, rights, credits, or effects of the defendant to be held as security for the satisfaction of such judgment as the plaintiff may recover. It is principally used against absconding, concealed, or fraudulent debtors. U. S. Capsule Co. v. Isaacs, 23 Ind. App. 533, 55 N. E. 832; Campbell v. Keys, 130 Mich. 127, 89 N. W. 720; Rempe v. Ravens, 68 Ohio St 113, 67 N. E. 282. To give jurisdiction. Where the defendant is a non-resident, or beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the court, his goods or land within the territory may be seized upon process of attachment; whereby he will be compelled to enter an appearance, or the court acquires jurisdiction so far as to dispose of the property attached. This is sometimes called “foreign attachment.” Domestic and foreign. In some jurisdictions it is common to give the name “domestic attachment” to one issuing against a resident debtor, (upon the special ground of fraud, intention to abscond, etc.,) and to designate an attachment against a nonresident, or his property, as “foreign.” Longwell v. Hartwell, 164 Pa. 533, 30 Atl. 495; Biddle v. Girard Nat Bank, 109 Pa. 356. But the term “foreign attachment” more properly belongs to the process otherwise familiarly known as “garnishment.” It was a peculiar and ancient remedy open to creditors within the jurisdiction of the city of London, by which they were enabled to satisfy their own debts by attaching or seizing the money or goods of the debtor in the hands of a third person within the jurisdiction of the city. Welsh v. Blackwell, 14 N. J. Law, 346. This power and process survive in modern law, in all common-law jurisdictions, and are variously denominated “garnishment,” “trustee process,” or “factorizing.”


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