All Content

Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Sep 26, 2013

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Connie Reguli, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Patton, Jr.

Attorneys 2:

Cheri Patton, pro se.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

During the pendency of this divorce action, the trial court found Husband in criminal contempt for failing to pay pendente lite support on five occasions and sentenced Husband to ten days per count for a total sentence of fifty days. Husband was not booked or jailed for contempt but he was detained for two hours during the court’s lunch recess. During the recess, Husband’s trial counsel filed a notice of appeal. Husband was returned to the courtroom thereafter, and he and his counsel participated in the divorce hearing, which commenced after lunch. Following the conclusion of a short divorce hearing, the court took notice of the appeal from the contempt action and granted a stay of the sentence pending this appeal; Husband was then released. This appeal followed. We have concluded that the evidence upon which the five counts of criminal contempt were based was inadmissible and there is no other evidence to support a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Husband had the ability to pay the support when it was due. Therefore, we reverse the finding of five counts of criminal contempt.