Wondering why O.J. Simpson now lives in Florida? It turns out that Florida has the nation's most generous "homestead" protection. That means that Simpson's home cannot be seized and auctioned to pay (part of) the judgment he still owes to the families of his victims. Florida also restricts the ability of judgment creditors to garnish wages. When I learned of this, my first thought was that this seems inconsistent with the obligation of states to give full faith and credit to the judgments of their sister states, but a moment's reflection showed that that's not quite right: Florida's rules governing homestead protection and wage garnishing do not deny any of the legal effect of an out-of-state judgment. Rather, they are substantive protections for debtors against creditors, and as long as Florida treats out-of-state creditors no worse than in-state creditors (which it apparently does), then this is a permissible choice-of-law rule that does not directly implicate full faith and credit.
Nonetheless, it certainly FEELS like there's something fishy here. Defendant loses a lawsuit and is ordered to pay millions to the victorious. But unless the plaintiff managed to get a pre-judgment lien on property owned by the defendant in a state that allows such a procedure, defendant will be able to move to Florida and avoid having to pay up. At some point--if, say, Florida or some other state forbade the forced sale or seizure of ANY assets, including bank deposits, personal property, etc.--this would look like an effort to circumvent full faith and credit, though perhaps the protection for creditors against that sort of extreme debtor protection is the in-state political process.
Anyway, thanks to OJ Simpson, whose tasteless return to the public eye provides this opportunity to ponder our federalism.