You are here
I am selling my house and the title report shows the US District Court has a lien on my property.
A lien was filed with the register of deeds if you posted a property bond for an individual charged in this court. If you believe the case has concluded, it is likely 1) there was never written request for release of property bond filed with this court; or 2) the Satisfaction of Mortgage was never filed with the register of deeds. For assistance, please contact the Clerk's Office Financial Department at 414-297-3417. You may need to file a written request with the court, along with a Satisfaction of Mortgage, to have the lien released.
For more information on property bonds, please see Procedures on Posting Real Estate.
How often are restitution checks issued to victims?
The Clerk's Office issues restitution payments to victims once a month. Payments are generated when at least $25 is available for disbursement to a victim. Payments are disbursed pursuant to victim information listed in the criminal judgment. If a defendant is not making payments, restitution checks will not generate in that case. Checks are issued by the US Treasury Department and the check stub will contain case information.
What forms of payment does the Clerk's Office accept?
The Clerk's Office accepts cash, personal checks, business checks, cashier's checks, money orders, and credit cards. Personal checks or credit cards are not accepted for criminal bond.
Does the Clerk's Office send a receipt when I make a payment by mail?
If you would like a receipt to be returned to you, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your payment.
I am a victim in a criminal case and would like to know how much I am still owed.
Note: Pursuant to regulations adopted by the Judicial Conference of the United States, information regarding payments made in criminal cases is not available to the public and may only be provided to the restitution payee (victim), to the defendant, or to counsel of record for the defendant.
How do I file a lawsuit?
The first step in filing a lawsuit is to write a complaint. A complaint is a written statement in which you set forth the facts of your case and state what you would like to happen or what relief you are seeking. You must submit your complaint to the Clerk of Court’s office and either pay the appropriate filing fee or seek permission from the judge to proceed without pre-paying the filing fee.
If I cannot afford the filing fee, can I still file a lawsuit?
If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may ask the judge for permission to proceed without prepaying the filing fee. This is called petitioning the court to proceed in forma pauperis. You must submit a “Request to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees and/or Costs.” This form is available at the Clerk of Court’s office or click here. After you submit the completed form, the judge will review the information you provide to determine if you can pay the filing fee. If the judge determines you can pay the filing fee or part of the filing fee, the judge will order you to do so. If the judge determines you cannot pay the filing fee, you will be allowed to proceed with your lawsuit without prepaying the filing fee. For a list of filing fees, please click here .
How do I serve my complaint on the defendant(s)?
Once you pay the filing fee, the Clerk of Court will provide you with instructions on how to serve the defendant(s). This includes providing each defendant with a copy of the complaint and either (1) a Summons or (2) both a Request to Waive Service of Summons and a Waiver of Service of Summons forms, both are found in our forms directory. If you were granted permission to proceed without prepaying the filing fee, the United States Marshals will serve the defendant.
Can the court appoint an attorney to represent me for free?
Unlike a criminal case, there is no right to counsel in a civil case. However, under certain circumstances, the judge may attempt to find an attorney who is willing to volunteer his or her time to represent a person in federal court. Because the court lacks funds to pay attorneys who agree to represent those who cannot afford to hire an attorney on their own, these attorneys work without being paid (referred to as “pro bono”).
Before the judge will consider trying to find an attorney to volunteer to represent someone in a civil action, the litigant must first attempt to find an attorney on his or her own. This involves contacting at least three attorneys to ask whether they would be willing to represent you on a pro bono basis.
If you are unable to find an attorney on your own, you may file a “Motion for the Appointment of Counsel.” In this motion, you must explain why you are unable to afford counsel. You must also provide details about your efforts to find counsel.
The judge will review the motion. If the judge finds that you lack the resources to hire an attorney and have made appropriate efforts to obtain counsel on your own, the judge will consider several factors, including the complexity of the case, to decide whether to try and find a volunteer attorney to represent you.
I filed a complaint and served the defendant, now what?
After the defendant is served with a summons and a copy of the complaint, the defendant generally must file an answer to the complaint. Once the defendant answers the complaint, the judge usually will schedule a conference with the parties. The judge may decide to have the conference over the phone or in the court. During this conference, the judge will discuss scheduling further proceedings in your case. The judge will set a deadline for the parties to make their initial disclosures, as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a). The judge usually will also set deadlines for the parties to complete all discovery and to file dispositive motions.
During discovery, the parties exchange information about the case. This may include exchanging documents, presenting interrogatories (written questions), or conducting depositions. The discovery phase usually lasts a number of months.
At any point in the case, the parties may try to negotiate a settlement of their dispute.