Brief on Jailing Child Support Debtors Contemnors in Unconstitutional Debtor Prisons

Brief on Jailing Child Support Debtors Contemnors in Unconstitutional Debtor Prisons

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Brief on Jailing Child Support Debtors Contemnors in Unconstitutional Debtor PrisonsDebtor Prison Decision for Tennessee X Read the Tennessee Court of Appeals disappointing decision in this case by clicking on the hypertext link here: TN Court of Appeals Decision on Debtor Prisons in Tennessee SHOW Tennessee Debtor Prison Decision notice || HIDE Tennessee Debtor Prison Decision notice IN THE COURT OF APPEALS FOR TENNESSEE AT KNOXVILLE ______________________________________________________________________________ Docket No. ______________________________________________________________________________ STATE OF TENNESSEE EX REL. MICKEY PHILLIPS, Plaintiffs-Appellees, - versus - GWEN KNOX, Respondent-Appellant. ______________________________________________________________________________ REVISED BRIEF FOR RESPONDENT-APPELLANT ______________________________________________________________________________ Dr. Michael A. S. Guth Counsel for Appellant 116 Oklahoma Ave. Oak Ridge, TN 37830-8604 Phone: (865) 483-8309 e-mail: [email protected]
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May 24, 2001 TABLE OF CONTENTS Page TABLE OF AUTHORITIES ................. iii QUESTIONS PRESENTED .................. vii JUDGMENT BELOW ...... 1 JURISDICTION ................ 1 STATEMENT OF THE CASE ......... 1 STATEMENT OF THE FACTS ....... 2 SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT 5 STANDARD OF REVIEW 8 ARGUMENT 8 I.. INCARCERATION FOR CIVIL CONTEMPT IS AN INAPPROPRIATE REMEDY TO ENFORCE A CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION AGAINST AN IMPOVERISHED AND INVOLUNTARILY UNEMPLOYED PARTY... 10 II. THE TRIAL COURT'S PRIOR ORDERS IN THIS CASE AND OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED HAVE CREATED AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL DEBTORS' PRISON REGIME 14 III. THE PURGE AMOUNT SET BY THE TRIAL COURT VIOLATED BOTH FEDERAL AND TENNESSEE LAW, BECAUSE THE APPELLANT DID NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THAT MUCH MONEY AND THEREFORE DID NOT HAVE THE MEANS TO SECURE HER OWN RELEASE ...... 19 IV. THE TRIAL COURT S ORDER MUST BE REVERSED, BECAUSE IT REFUSED TO REINSTATE THE APPELLANT S DRIVER S LICENSE, EVEN AFTER THE PURGE AMOUNT HAD BEEN PAID ...... 23 V. THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AND COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY HOLDING A PUNITIVE (CRIMINAL) CONTEMPT HEARING AGAINST THE APPELLANT WHILE LABELING IT AS A CIVIL CONTEMPT HEARING ...... 25 VI. THE TRIAL COURT VIOLATED THE APPELLANT'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, AND THE APPELLANT NEEDS DECLARATORY RELIEF FROM THIS COURT THAT SHE WAS NEVER GUILTY OF CIVIL CONTEMPT ..... 28 VII. THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION BY HOLDING THAT APPELLANT'S MOTHER COULD PROVIDE DAY CARE SERVICES WITHOUT COMPENSATION SO AS TO ENABLE THE APPELLANT TO WORK AND SATISFY THE TRIAL COURT'S ORDERS. 30 VIII. THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION BY SETTING AN EXCESSIVELY HIGH CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION FOR THE APPELLANT AND IN REFUSING TO MODIFY THE OBLIGATION DESPITE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN HER ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES... 33 IX. THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION BY SETTING THE CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION TO CONTINUE AT THE SAME AMOUNT EVEN WHILE THE APPELLANT WAS INCARCERATED ...... 39 X. THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION BY RELYING ON HEARSAY, INSTEAD OF PROOF OFFERED BY TESTIMONY OR EXHIBIT, DENIED THE APPELLANT HER DUE PROCESS RIGHT TO CHALLENGE THESE FACTUAL INACCURACIES, AND THEREBY THWARTED THE TENNESSEE RULES OF EVIDENCE ...... 40 CONCLUSION.. 42 TABLE OF AUTHORITIES
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U. S. Supreme Court Cases Hicks on Behalf of Feiock v. Feiock, 485 U.S. 624 (1988). 20, 27 International Union, United Mine Workers of America v. Bagwell, 512 U.S. 821, 829, 129 L. Ed. 2d 642, __ 114 S. Ct. 2552, __ (1994). 23, 24 Shillitani v. United States, 384 U.S. 364 (1966)
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