Judge Acker issued his Memorandum and Opinion today on Scruggs’s motion to release the cash “deposited with the Clerk as security pending appeal to E.A. Renfroe & Co. Inc. in satisfaction of the civil contempt sanctions entered against Scruggs and the defendants.” Also, the Rigsbys have filed a motion for a mediation order, today as well. Busy day in Alabama. The motion for a mediation order was suggested by the judge on Monday. The Rigsbys took him up on the offer.
I suspected that Judge Acker was waiting on issuing his order on Scruggs’s motion because he was going to have to do something reasonable but didn’t really want to. My guess was correct!
The court voiced its incredulity and its concern over granting the said motion without caveat. The court made clear that the motion will be granted only with the court’s disclaimer of any belief that there will remain any right by Scruggs and/or by the Rigsbys to appeal and/or to recover from Renfroe the amount of the satisfied judgment in the event of a successful appeal by anybody.
But he was extremely impressed with Scruggs and counsel’s brief filed with the Eleventh Circuit filed on June 19, 2008 quoted in the memo:
“A civil contempt order in final and appealable when ‘a fine or penalty is imposed within a time certain that may not be avoided by some other form of compliance.'” [omit citations here]
Scruggs correctly anticipated the July 8, 2008 opinion of the 11th Circuit in Securities and Exchange v. Kirland [omitting citations here] in which the Court virtually repeated, as follows, what was said in Scruggs’s brief:
An order that imposes a fine or penalty for contempt that must be obeyed within a certain period and may not be avoided by some other form of compliance is immediately appealable. (emphasis supplied)
What Scruggs proposes is in reality no more than a loan to Renfroe, contingent on the outcome of Scrugg’s appeal…
This court should not relieve the Rigsbys of exposure to sanctions for not paying the $65,000 judgment if the Rigsbys can still appeal and if successful, get some or all of Scrugg’s money back from Renfroe. It this is what happens as a result of this court’s granting of Scrugg’s motion, this court expresses its regret in advance.”
The rest of the memo/opinion is a curiosity and I believe I got the final judgment down where the clerk is ordered to write a check to Renfroe’s attorneys with interest and the balance left over with interest written out to Scruggs’s attorneys. And ultimately the motion is granted. But the court is perplexed.
The court cannot, of course, discern all of Scruggs’s motives. Their motion may be a gallant and magnimous gesture or the fulfillment of an enforceable contract, or a self -interested ploy. Whatever it is, Scruggs cannot seriously be asking for this courts imprimatur on a conditional, non-final, illusory satisfaction of a judgment against four jointly obligated judgment debtors . . . while the other two remain vulnerable to execution and/or sanction for non-payment and who have not appealed or obtained a stay.
Scruggs’s motion expressly seeks “satisfaction of the civil contempt sanctions” against all four entities against whom joint $65,000 judgment was entered. The Rigsbys understandably want whatever favorable consideration they can get from Scruggs and/or this court. The court does not want to interfere with Scruggs’s rescue operation.[emphasis added]
Take a read of this order and see if I got it right. I can’t figure out what happens if Scruggs wins and then the Rigsby have to appeal?