CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New York Divorcee Jailed in "Debtor's Prison"

From Like many of the one million Americans who go through a divorce each year, Marvin Singer is indignant, depressed, financially stressed and convinced that he is a victim of judicial abuse. Unlike all but a tiny number, Mr. Singer, 71, is also in jail.

According to the official record, Mr. Singer was jailed for refusing a judge’s order to pay his ex-wife’s lawyer $100,000 — about half of what he owes for her legal representation during their six-year tug-of-war over marital assets.

According to Mr. Singer, he is an inmate in a modern-day debtor’s prison.

“In this country, you’re not supposed to go to jail for owing money,” said Mr. Singer, a real estate lawyer who may or may not have retired, depending on which side of this bitter struggle one sits. “I haven’t hurt anyone. I haven’t robbed anyone. How could this be?”

There is no record of how many people travel a path from divorce court to jail. Administrators of the matrimonial courts in New York and other states track how many divorces are filed, and how many are resolved, but not how many litigants in irreconcilable marriages end up in irreconcilable rows with the judge. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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--Judge Ross declined to discuss any current case, including Mr. Singer’s, but said that he would jail only someone who “makes a conscious decision not to comply with a court order.”--

I gurantee that if Singer had put the fees in escrow, or made non de minimis regular payments, he would not be in jail.

Contempt is not "debtor's prison" -- contempt is contempt.

I have no sympathy for him.

Posted by: KipEsquire | Feb 16, 2007 2:36:41 AM

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