Civil Contempt, Sanctions + Miami Lawsuits
Are involved in a Miami lawsuit ? Did you hear the word “contempt” or “sanctions“? Not a good thing. A recent 3rd District Court of Appeal opinion from January 13, 2021 deals with civil contempt. It reminds all Miami trial lawyers about this sensitive subject. If you were found in contempt, one question which you have no doubt asked your Miami litigation law firm is: “Can I appeal this order of contempt?”
Florida Civil Contempt
Has an order of civil contempt been filed against you in a Miami lawsuit? If so, have you spoken to a Florida appellate attorney about seeking a writ of certiorari before Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal? A writ of certiorari is a “request” by a litigant, non-party, or party, asking the appeals court to review a trial court’s order.
A recent, January 13, 2021 opinion from the appeals court for Miami-Dade deals with contempt. It reminds us of one important tenet of Florida law. Most Miami business litigators know this. “A party cannot be held in contempt for non-compliance with a court order if there party did not have the present ability to comply with the court order.” This quote is from the case of Children’s Home Society of Florida v. K.W., et al. You can read the entire opinion here:
What is Contempt?
A trial judge may enter an order of contempt for parties that don’t comply with court orders. Sanctions in a Miami lawsuit are a related but different concept of punishment. A sanction is assessed against a party for doing bad things. For example, someone who lies may have their lawsuit dismissed as a sanction. Specific findings of fact are required by the trial judge. Contempt is a finding by a trial judge that someone did not do what they were ordered to do. After all, in our country, in our judicial process and civil procedure, an order from a judge is not a suggestion. It’s a command.
If you are concerned that someone is acting improperly in your Miami lawsuit, talk to your Miami litigation lawyer about this. And remember, courts in Miami Dade have the inherent right to sanction bad faith conduct at any time. If you are the subject of a court order of sanctions or civil contempt, talk to a Florida appellate attorney at once. Ask her if you can have that order reviewed. You might consider a motion before the existing court in your Miami lawsuit. Or, it may simply make more sense to ask the appellate court to step in.