Monday, February 1, 2010
From the web page of the Tennessee Supreme Court comes a summary of a recent decision of the Court of Appeals:
This appeal involves a finding of civil contempt against a court clerk. Three juvenile court referees entered separate orders requiring the juvenile court clerk to produce certain court files to them on a date certain. The court clerk did not produce the files by the deadline. The referees issued show cause orders, requiring the court clerk to appear and show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court for failing to comply with the orders to produce the files. At the first show cause hearing, the court clerk produced most, but not all, of the files at issue. A second hearing was scheduled, at which the clerk produced all but two files. For the failure to produce the two missing files, the referees held the court clerk in civil contempt and ordered him to be incarcerated until the files were produced. A couple of hours later, the files were produced, and the court clerk was released. The court clerk appealed the contempt finding and was granted a de novo hearing before the juvenile court judge. At the conclusion of the hearing, the juvenile court judge found the court clerk in willful contempt of court, but found also that he had purged his contempt by producing the files at issue. The court clerk now appeals. We affirm, finding that the juvenile court referees had authority to hold the court clerk in contempt and have him incarcerated until the files were produced, and that the evidence supports the trial court’s finding that the court clerk willfully disobeyed the referees’ lawful order.
The opinion is linked here. (Mike Frisch)