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Contempt Outline

Law Outlines > Modern American Remedies 4th Ed. Laycock Outlines

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CONTEMPT We do not hold people in contempt for failing to pay money judgments. Can send them to collections, but cannot be sent to jail for failure to pay (except in child support cases) Big Picture Q: How much power do we invest in the judge to enable her to deal with people's refusal to comply vs. how much risk of abuse by concentrating so much power in a single official Government by Injunction Debate: Contempt power can be used to multiply penalties far beyond what legislature has proscribed (definitely apparent in Bagwell). Using contempt power to magnify legislature created penalties is part of the controversy here. RULE: Refusal to comply with a specific order of the court (i.e. an injunction) is contempt of Court Three Types of Contempt - the Classic Formulation

1. Criminal Contempt: Fixed Punishment for a past violation. No getting out of it by doing something, you are being punished for violating the court order a. Violations of the court order must be willful to constitute criminal contempt b. Prosecuted by the sovereign, with substantially full protections of criminal procedure i. Collateral Bar Rule Applies: Offense is complete when defendant willfully violates an injunction, even if the injunction is later reversed. Thus, plaintiff cannot challenge the validity of the injunction in a prosecution for criminal contempt

2. Coercive Civil Contempt: Conditional penalty imposed (or threatened) to coerce compliance (i.e. you go to jail until you comply with the court order)

3. Compensatory Civil Contempt: Compensation or restitution to plaintiff for harm caused or profits gained by the contempt. Essentially a normal damages/restitution action that I triggered not by a violation of the law, but by the violation of a court order a. Both forms of civil contempt are prosecuted by civil plaintiff with civil procedure b. The contempt (but not the amount of the profits) must be proved by clear and convincing evidence c. Violation does not need to have been willful, but if it was not willful, does it make any sense to really try to coerce?

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