Hearing Required On Contempt Petition

Ex parte SE Property Holdings, LLC; SE Property Holdings, LLC v. Harrell, [Ms. 1190814, 1190816, Nov. 5, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2021). The Court (1190814 – Shaw, J.; Parker, C.J., and Bryan, Mendheim, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; 1190816 – Shaw, J.; Bryan, Mendheim, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Parker, C.J., concurs in part and concurs in the result) reverses the Baldwin Circuit Court’s order denying SE Property Holdings, LLC’s (“SEPH”) petition to hold David L. Harrell in contempt for failing to comply with the trial court’s postjudgment charging order entered in a previous action involving the parties. The Court first notes that pursuant to Rule 70A(g), Ala. R. Civ. P, adopted in 1994, an adjudication or finding of contempt in civil cases is subject to direct appeal. Ms. *7.

Noting that a party cannot be held in contempt without a hearing, the Court reverses due to the trial court’s failure to hold a hearing before denying SEPH’s petition for contempt. Ms. *15, quoting Rule 70A(c)(2):

“Upon the filing of a contempt petition, the clerk shall issue process in accordance with these rules, unless the petition is initiated by a counterclaim or cross-claim authorized under Rule 13[, Ala. R. Civ. P.]. In any case, the person against whom the petition is directed shall be notified (1) of the time and place for the hearing on the petition and (2) that failure to appear at the hearing may result in the issuance of a writ of arrest pursuant to Rule 70A(d), to compel the presence of the alleged contemnor.”


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