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I was wondering if I could get an opinion on what someone should do if they find themselves in this situation. Lets say I got sued by portfolio recovery for a past credit account around the amount of $1750 in California. After receiving discovery, I simply decided to exercise the right to plead the fifth because to my understanding (which at the time was limited and still is), to have answered the questions would be testifying against myself. Also, is it not the Plaintiff who holds the burden of proof needed to win the case? Consequently, A motion to deem admissions was entered and court date will be in a few weeks. Would it be a better idea at this point to just answer the discovery or should I just ride this one out and push the point that unless there's proof of the debt, how can there be a judgment against me? Also, if completing discovery ends up being my best option, would it be wise to file it with the court so that the judge might see it and decide not deem the truth of facts specified in the motion to be deemed admitted in his tentative ruling? Thank you 

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To expand further, the US Constitution and its amendments protect you against the government, not private individuals and organizations. The only way pleading the fifth would work in a civil case is if you think you committed a crime and that is not a rabbit hole you want to go down.

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3 hours ago, woodbutcher2986 said:
 

I was wondering if I could get an opinion on what someone should do if they find themselves in this situation. Lets say I got sued by portfolio recovery for a past credit account around the amount of $1750 in California. After receiving discovery, I simply decided to exercise the right to plead the fifth because to my understanding (which at the time was limited and still is), to have answered the questions would be testifying against myself. Also, is it not the Plaintiff who holds the burden of proof needed to win the case? Consequently, A motion to deem admissions was entered and court date will be in a few weeks. Would it be a better idea at this point to just answer the discovery or should I just ride this one out and push the point that unless there's proof of the debt, how can there be a judgment against me? Also, if completing discovery ends up being my best option, would it be wise to file it with the court so that the judge might see it and decide not deem the truth of facts specified in the motion to be deemed admitted in his tentative ruling? Thank you 

As has been pointed out in the previous responses, the 5th Amendment protects you from testifying against yourself when accused of a crime.  Here is the 5th Amendment.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

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7 hours ago, woodbutcher2986 said:

After receiving discovery, I simply decided to exercise the right to plead the fifth because to my understanding (which at the time was limited and still is), to have answered the questions would be testifying against myself.

As was already states you didn't have a 5th amendment right in this case.  While creative it wasn't legally allowed.

7 hours ago, woodbutcher2986 said:

Also, is it not the Plaintiff who holds the burden of proof needed to win the case?

It is.

7 hours ago, woodbutcher2986 said:

Consequently, A motion to deem admissions was entered and court date will be in a few weeks.

That is the legal standard for discovery in a civil case.  The difference in a criminal case is the state is REQUIRED legally to give copies of ALL evidence they intend to use at trial to the defense within a defined time frame so that a solid defense can be developed.  Failure to disclose evidence means the defense has a valid basis to object to the state being allowed to use it.  If it was attained after discovery the state is still required to disclose it to the defense.

For a civil case if you want to know what the other party has in evidence to use against you then you must engage in discovery prior to trial.  It is not required.  Most states have rules and laws in place that if one party sends discovery to the opposition and they fail to respond the answers are automatically deemed admitted.  When you failed to respond the Plaintiff acted accordingly because under California law invoking the 5th amendment in a civil case is not allowed and failure to answer their discovery means you admitted to what they were asking.

7 hours ago, woodbutcher2986 said:

Would it be a better idea at this point to just answer the discovery or should I just ride this one out and push the point that unless there's proof of the debt, how can there be a judgment against me? Also, if completing discovery ends up being my best option, would it be wise to file it with the court so that the judge might see it and decide not deem the truth of facts specified in the motion to be deemed admitted in his tentative ruling?

The only thing that can happen by submitting the answers now is the court rules that you waited too long.  You have a chance they show you some leniency because you are pro-se and let the answers in.  If you elect to do this you should file it with the court and the Plaintiff to ensure both parties are informed.

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Thank you everybody for this information and for the timely answers.It is very much appreciated. I have been struggling with another issue if you might offer a suggestion that would be great. 

   When filing with the court, do I have to walk in and give it directly to the clerk or can i fax/mail it? My case is managed in san joaquin county. Can somebody else walk into the courthouse and file for me? I work long hours and it's difficult to take time off at this moment. Thank you everybody....

 Oh while we're on the topic, does anyone have any suggestions for answering the typical cut and paste specially prepared interrogatories, request for admission, and demand for production of documents. The attorneys for plaintiff are Hunt & Henriquez. Thanks again
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On 12/8/2019 at 7:54 AM, BV80 said:
 

As has been pointed out in the previous responses, the 5th Amendment protects you from testifying against yourself when accused of a crime.  Here is the 5th Amendment.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

But see Lefkowitz v. Turley, a US Supreme Court decision that held the Fifth Amendment right does apply to civil cases.

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37 minutes ago, nobk4me said:

the Fifth Amendment right does apply to civil cases.

Civil cases in which testimony of criminal activity was being elicited. I don't think OP is worried about criminally incriminating himself. 

Also, defendants in a civil action can be compelled to provide self-incriminating testimony where the defendant has been granted immunity, or the criminal activity is otherwise unprosecutable, as in OJ Simpson's civil lawsuit. 

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41 minutes ago, nobk4me said:

But see Lefkowitz v. Turley, a US Supreme Court decision that held the Fifth Amendment right does apply to civil cases.

Actually what SCOTUS held was that if immunity to criminal prosecution is offered the State can compel employees or contractors to testify as it is in the public interest.  That is not the same as saying that the 5th Amendment can be invoked in a case where no criminal activity is alleged. 

 Under a proper accommodation between the interest of the State and the Fifth Amendment, the State can require employees or contractors to respond to inquiries, but only if it offers them immunity sufficient to supplant their Fifth Amendment privilege. Kastigar v. United States, 406 U. S. 441. Pp. 414 U. S. 84-85.

342 F.Supp. 544, affirmed.

 

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1 hour ago, nobk4me said:

But see Lefkowitz v. Turley, a US Supreme Court decision that held the Fifth Amendment right does apply to civil cases.

He is protected in a civil trial from testifying against himself if his statements could be used against him in a criminal trial in which he is a defendant.

The Fifth Amendment `not only protects the individual against being involuntarily called as a witness against himself in a criminal prosecution but also privileges him not to answer official questions put to him in any other proceeding, civil or criminal, formal or informal, where the answers might incriminate him in future criminal proceedings." Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308, 316-17 (1976) (quoting Lefkowitz v. Turley, 414 U.S. 70, 77 (1973)). Thus, "a witness protected by the privilege may rightfully refuse to answer unless and until he is protected at least against the use of his compelled answers and evidence derived therefrom in any subsequent criminal case in which he is a defendant.Lefkowitz v. Turley, 414 U.S. 70, 78 (1973) (citing Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441 (1972).

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